The Interrelationships of Socio-cultural Influences in Healthcare
Health is defined as a state of complete physical, mental, social, and emotional wellbeing and not just the absence of infirmity. According to Batalden (2018), this is consistent with the biopsychosocial model of health which considers physiological, psychological, and socio-cultural factors in influencing health, and the interrelationships between these factors. The WHO definition links health with wellbeing and conceptualizes the availability of social, cultural, and physical resources to achieve and maintain health.
Vulnerable Population and Health
Vulnerable people face various health problems. Among the different groups of vulnerable population are the economically poor, the elderly, the homeless, the immunocompromised, and those living with disabilities. For this discussion, the selected vulnerable population are the homeless, a population that is increasing in numbers on daily basis not only in the US but globally. Homelessness can be the result of poverty, violence, mental conditions, divorce, natural disasters, unemployment, and domestic violence. The homeless are at risk of health problems due to lack of access to healthcare, lack of insurance, stress, violence, poor environmental sanitation, lack of proper nutrition, access to illicit drugs, and exposure to the extremes of weather (Stafford & Wood, 2017). They are more likely to suffer from different health conditions, among them HIV, mental health conditions, malnutrition, skin problems, and communicable diseases such as cholera. Other health conditions common among vulnerable populations include respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis and chronic bronchitis, sexually transmitted infections, and substance abuse-related disorders. This continuum of conditions mapped with lack of access to health services make them suffer from severe forms of the diseases.
Determinants of Health
Health is determined by factors that dictate who enjoys a healthy style whir others suffer the consequences of a disease. Various factors including social and physical factors, biological make-up, policymaking, individual behavior, and health services affect health (Determinants of Health, 2020). Those who practice the safe practices are likely to spend fewer resources and time in hospitals as compared to the endangered groups.
Health services determine the health of the people. The ability to access health services and the quality of health offered are the main concerns. Those who can pay for health services will likely go to seek care on time, receive education on preventive measures, access quality care, and have a better prognosis. Barriers that inhibit one from accessing health care services include lack of insurance, high cost of care, language barrier, discrimination in the health facility, and unavailability of services in the health care (Determinants of health, 2020). Lack of access to care leads to reduced access to preventive care, complications of simple conditions to chronic forms, increased hospitalization for easily preventable conditions, delay in care, and inability to meet health needs, therefore, leading to poor health outcomes with high cases of mortality and morbidity.
Behaviors undertaken by an individual can determine the health of the person. Individuals who behave in an accorded manner according to health-improving strategies will enjoy healthy life (Islam, 2019). Quitting smoking and stopping alcohol drinking can reduce incidences of respiratory conditions such as emphysema and other COPDs. Engaging in daily physical activities reduces the risk of cardiac conditions and diabetes mellitus. Effective handwashing practices reduce the incidences of upper respiratory infections and gastroenteritis.
On the other hand, engaging in smoking and abusing other substances has negative implications on health including the development of cancers, respiratory diseases, and diabetes. Failure to exercise regularly leads to an increased rate of heart conditions and obesity. Finally, improper handwashing leads to diarrhea and upper respiratory infections. Observing healthy behaviors is supportive of healthy living.
Social and physical factors are also determinants of health. Those who have attained a higher level of education, living in safe environments, employed with good-paying jobs, and live in wealthy neighborhoods are likely to enjoy a healthy living (Islam, 2019). This is because, they can access care timely, receive preventive services such as immunization and health education, eat healthy diets, and drink safe water hence reduced incidences of chronic problems and hospitalizations. Their conditions are diagnosed early, start treatment early, and are likely to recover on time.
Contrarily, the poor, less educated, with less paying jobs, living under poor sanitation, with underdeveloped neighborhoods, and lack of insurance are likely to suffer from adverse forms of diseases. This is because of lack of access to timely care, lack of access to preventive measures, lack of money to access care, and exposure to poor environmental conditions. The resultant effect is an increased rate of untreated chronic conditions, increased rate of communicable disease, reduced life expectancy, increased suffering, and increased mortality and morbidity rates thus poor health outcomes.
Observations from Sentinel City
A walk through Sentinel City revealed some health patterns and determinants of health. The healthcare providing centers were few, and even the few could not be accessed by poor residents, lack of insurance and high cost of care hindered the access. Few people could be seen lined up in few medical centers which did not meet the standards of care. This leads to increased cases with poor patient outcomes.
Most people used public transport to access various places. Few people could be seen exercising and there were few spaces for exercising while others smoked cigarettes. Smoking increases the risk of respiratory problems while lack of exercise increases the incidences of cardiac diseases and obesity. This could negatively affect the lives of people.
Slum areas were dominantly inhabited by the poor, elderly, with low-paying jobs, high population, and poor environmental conditions leading to an increased of diseases. Lack of access to preventive education and access to care increase the likelihood of serious conditions in this population. The rich lived in isolated areas with a clean environment and easy access to care.
Coming up with strategies to ensure equitable access to care and quality care is necessary to improve the health of the people. Offering health promotion education to people including hand washing, advice to quit smoking, and encouraging daily exercise helps in improving the health of the people. Additionally, creating more spaces to put up recreational centers and fields for exercise would help encourage people to exercise (Batalden, 2018). Insurance services such as Medicaid should be made accessible to the poor and vulnerable populations and they should be encouraged to enroll. The insurance will help them in accessing basic care and other preventive services. This will help in improving the health of the people.
Health is an important asset in human life and everyone is mandated to receive quality care. Factors such as social, biologic, policies, and personal behaviors influence the life of a person. Offering insurance to the underprivileged communities, giving health promotion education, and encouraging physical activities through putting up more spaces for exercise help improve health. Mental, psychological, biological, and social factors interact to define the health of an individual.
- Batalden, P. (2018). Getting more health from healthcare: quality improvement must acknowledge patient coproduction-an essay by Paul Batalden. BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.), 362, k3617. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k3617
- Determinants of health. (2020). Healthypeople.Gov. https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/about/foundation-health-measures/Determinants-of-Health
- Islam, M. M. (2019). Social determinants of health and related inequalities: Confusion and implications. Frontiers in Public Health, 7, 11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2019.00011
- Stafford, A., & Wood, L. (2017). Tackling health disparities for people who are homeless? Start with social determinants. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(12), 1535. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14121535