Perceptions of the Social Determinants of Health Across Canada: An Examination of the Literature 2016

Summary: 

Most people, if you speak with them, get the basic concept of the social determinants of health (SDOH). However, it is unclear if people recognize the essential role they play in improving health. Health equity in Canada requires broad public support and therefore a better understanding of the social determinants of health among the public.

In our previous work Making the Connections (Wellesley Institute, 2015), we focused on seven social determinants of health that align with Wellesley Institute’s strategic priorities: education, health care access, racism and racialization, housing, income and employment, food security, and social inclusion and community. We presented how each determinant affects our health and how these determinants relate to each other to impact our health outcomes. The aim of this scoping review of Canadian literature is to examine how the Canadian public understands these seven key social determinants of health that we identified in Making the Connections and to identify gaps in the public’s understanding of the SODH and the research on this subject. Based on the findings, we discuss what we know about Canadian’s perceptions of the causes of poor health, why public understanding of the social determinants of health is important for policy, and what needs to be done to improve broad public understanding of the social determinants of health to improve health and health equity.

Publication date: 
Dec 2016
Author: 
Jo Snyder, Rebecca Cheff, Brenda Roche
Publisher: 
Wellesley Institute
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