Health has been defined by the World Health Organisation as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
There are many influencing factors that will determine a person’s quality of life and health outcomes which have been categorised as the ‘social determinants of health’. For example, the kind of housing and environments they live in, the health or education services which they have access to, the incomes generated and the type of work they do, all influence the health and lifestyle decisions made.
People who are less well off or who belong to socially excluded groups tend to be worse off in relation to these social determinants. For example, they may have lower incomes, poorer education, fewer or more precarious employment opportunities and/or more dangerous working conditions or they may live in poorer housing or less healthy environments with access to poorer services or amenities than those who are better off – all of which are linked to poorer health.The ‘social determinants of health’ (depicted in the model by Barton & Grant, 2006) can shape and influence an individual’s health throughout the course of their life, from birth to old age.
Health and social wellbeing improvement aims to proactively address the causes and associated inequalities of preventable ill health and lack of wellbeing and can be categorised by a range of themes, including Accidents, Alcohol/Drug; Mental and Emotional Health and Wellbeing; Nutrition / Obesity Prevention; Physical Activity; Poverty and Tobacco.