Social Determinants of Health Status

Introduction

Social determinants of health allow healthcare providers see whether the patient has adequate access to healthcare, possesses enough financial resources to afford health care, and can independently maintain health (Healthy People, 2017). The strategy used for asking questions about social determinants was personal interactions in an informal atmosphere between the healthcare provider and the patient. The patient’s SDOH were assessed through the analysis of questions asked by the health care provider; the progress of issue improvement was evaluated through follow-ups associated with patient education. Overall, the patient does not have SDOH that limit her health.

Discussion of Key Questions

The following questions were asked to evaluate Ms. Wright’s social status:

  1. What is your current educational status? – As Ms. Wright is only 18, asking her about her educational status will determine whether her social position allows getting a proper education.
  2. Have you ever experienced discrimination in your daily life? – Since minorities or low-income individuals are more subjected to discrimination, this question will point to whether or not the patient belongs to such groups.
  3. Have you been educated on the importance of healthcare? – This question refers to health literacy and the level of health awareness.
  4. Does your neighborhood have a high crime rate? – A question for evaluating Ms. Wright’s environment.
  5. Do your parents have a stable employment? – As she is 18 and may depend on her parents for income, this question is essential to ask.

Responses to Key Questions

Ms. Wright stated that she was going college to get a Master’s Degree. This response suggests that her social status allows her to attain higher education. She indicated that the only discrimination that she had faced was associated with the fact that she was a woman, which is an issue for many women, not just those of low socioeconomic status. Ms. Wright concluded that she might not be educated enough on the importance of healthcare, but it could be due to her lack of interest. This points to the need for patient teaching. She stated that she lived in a peaceful neighborhood where the crime was infrequent, which suggests that her family could afford adequate housing. Lastly, both of her parents have stable employment, which suggests that her socioeconomic status is relatively high.

Economic Stability

While the government states that all citizens have an equal right to access healthcare services, in reality, only those individuals who have high levels of economic stability can have unlimited access to such services. As it has been discovered during the interactions with the patient, she is economically stable since her parents are both employed and can afford to pay for college education. Also, her parents can afford adequate housing, which boosts the patient’s economic stability. Therefore, the patient’s economic position allows her to access healthcare services when needed without experiencing issues with being rejected due to the inability to pay for her treatment.

Educational Status

According to Zimmerman, Woolf, and Haley (2013), an individual’s educational status can predict whether he or she will receive better health outcomes during treatment. Ms. Wright’s educational status allows her to be an entirely realized member of the community who could afford to go to college to become a professional in her field. As a student of an educational facility, she is presented with healthcare benefits and is accommodated during her studies at college, which is an opportunity that not all people have. Having an education means that the patient will get a job in the future and will be able to financially provide for herself and thus pay for necessary healthcare services.

Health Literacy

Various levels of health literacy may point to patients’ socioeconomic statuses and thus influence their access to health care. Assessing health literacy is essential because it may predict Ms. Wright’s attitudes towards health care and future behaviors regarding preventing health problems and managing unexpected situations (CDC, 2016). She indicated that her health literacy was not on a high level: she rarely contacts a health provider when being sick, does not educate herself on the importance of supplements, and sometimes avoids the topic of health altogether. Therefore, future strategies should be targeted at enhancing Ms. Wright’s health literacy.

Educational Opportunities and Barriers

As an educated young woman, Ms. Wright may still have difficulties with dealing with her health due to her age and the lack of attention to health issues that may exasperate in the future. She indicated that her family was not particularly interested in health education, which is another barrier. On the bright side, her education at college can facilitate her opportunities to access appropriate healthcare services and improve her well-being (Center on Society and Health, 2015).

Effect of Health on Quality of Life

It is essential to note that quality of life and one’s health are positively correlated factors; poor health leads to decreased quality of life and vice versa (Joseph, Royse, Benitez, & Pekmezi, 2014). Importantly, health-related quality of life refers not only to physical well-being but also to emotional, mental, and social well-being of patients. Based on Ms. Wright’s profile, she is a healthy young person with no past medical history, which suggests that her quality of life was not limited by poor health nor that she had any mental problems that limit her abilities to pursue a healthy lifestyle. She reported having access to healthcare and medical insurance to cover any needs, which reinforces her high quality of life.

Neighborhood and Environmental Impacts

While individual circumstances play a significant role in one’s health status, the environment can also have a negative or positive contribution. Ms. Wright mentioned that her neighborhood was peaceful and thus her environment did not reduce her access to health care. There is a private clinic in her area as well as an ER, which she can contact at any moment. Also, she has access to transportation in case if Ms. Wright needs to visit a health care facility immediately.

Healthcare Received in Low- and High-Income Areas

The income of households in different areas is a social determinant of health that is often overlooked. Citizens who live in low-income areas have a much more limited access to health care services due to the inability to cover them financially. Key socio-economic differences between high and low-income neighborhoods include access to healthy foods, adequate transportation, housing, environmental hazards, as well as community support (Hilmers, Hilmers, & Dave, 2012). Ms. Wright does not live in such an area and has insurance through her mother, which points to her ability to support her health care needs financially.

Rural Versus Urban Healthcare Access

While there are positive aspects of health care in rural areas, the bad news is that there are fewer services available compared to urban ones. Disadvantages of health care in rural areas include faulty allocation of resources, poor quality of services, inadequate infrastructural support (e.g., water, electricity) and internal inefficiency of government health care programs (Oladipo, 2014). Ms. Wright lives in an urban area and thus does not have issues with accessing the necessary health care services.

Neighborhood Healthy Food Options

Lack of access to healthy food options is a significant problem for low-income communities since many grocery store owners see that the demand for high-quality food options will be lower. Because unhealthy food choices lead to decreased health outcomes, the population’s health in low-income communities will be poor (Hilmers et al., 2012). Ms. Wright lives in a high-income area and thus can choose healthier food options for boosting her health. For instance, she visits a local grocery store and buy fresh produce, has more options at restaurants when choosing healthy food options, and has money to afford unprocessed foods of high quality.

Discussion of Social Determinants

Identification of Social Determinants

Critical social determinants that should be addressed in the patient’s plan of care include health literacy (educational barriers), the impact of the environment, and the benefits of her neighborhoods. The patient should be educated on the importance of health care for maintaining a high quality of life, provided with informational resources on how to stay safe and avoid toxic environments, and taught about the best strategies to improve the overall well-being through using neighborhood resources available to her. SDOH need to be addressed during the comprehensive health assessment because they will provide a basis for patient education for enhancing health literacy and thus making the best decisions for the patient’s health (CDC, 2016).

Patient Plan of Care

  1. Educational sessions with a health care provider. Ms. Wright is advised to visit several sessions held at her local healthcare facility with the purpose of educating herself on the following three topics:
    • Benefits of health literacy: better planning and accountability, improved lifestyle choices, enhanced relationships with healthcare providers, etc.;
    • Maintenance of a healthy lifestyle: physical activity and healthy diet choices, visiting local food stores to buy produce, find neighborhood-based classes and courses on health improvement;
    • Avoiding harmful environments: staying away from dangerous neighborhoods, eliminating dangerous people from the circle of friends, using preventative measures for personal safety.
  2. Follow-up regarding the patient’s well-being and access to health care. After the educational sessions, Ms. Wright will be encouraged to put the new knowledge into practice. After several months, a follow-up is advised for the healthcare provider to evaluate the patient’s progress and give advice on future practices.

Plan Implementation

Ms. Wright does not have any barriers that prevent her from accessing the assistance of a healthcare professional; thus, the plan can be implemented in two stages. It can take up to several months depending on the patient’s availability to visit the educational sessions. Overall, since no dramatic issues have been identified during the assessment, the patient will be given freedom with regards to the plan’s implementation.

Implementation Barriers

Barriers to the plan’s implementation include the lack of time (due to the patient’s studies) and the lack of Ms. Wright’s attention to the issue of health literacy (as has been identified previously). Because of this, the patient will be advised to develop a simple schedule for her to follow; deadlines can encourage her to stay on track of the educational program.

Individuals Involved in Interventions

Apart from the healthcare provider and Ms. Wright, other individuals involved in the intervention will be her parents. Since they provide a high level of support for Ms. Wright, the parents’ contribution to the intervention’s success will be highly valuable. Also, Ms. Wright will be encouraged to involve her peers from the neighborhood into educating themselves about the importance of healthcare; group experiences will build stronger relationships since friends will usually hold each other accountable for the lifestyle choices they make.

Plan Effectiveness

The plan of care will be useful to address Ms. Wright needs because she does not have any specific problems with accessing health care and thus does not require the increased support of health care providers yet. The plan’s effectiveness will be determined based on the patient’s assessment of her knowledge about the importance of healthcare as well as her overall health condition and its maintenance.

Summation of the Impact of Social Determinants

Ms. Wright is a healthy young woman whose social circumstances allowed her to maintain a high level of wellness. The assessment of her social determinants of health concluded that the patient is high on the income ladder, has massive opportunities to attain high education, and does not any significant barriers that prevent her from accessing health care. It has been advised for the patient to dedicate time to health awareness and education for the purpose of maintaining good physical and mental health.

References

CDC. (2016). Understanding health literacy. Web.

Center on Society and Health. (2015). Why education matters to health: Exploring the causes. Web.

Healthy People. (2017). Social determinants of health. Web.

Hilmers, A., Hilmers, D. C., & Dave, J. (2012). Neighborhood disparities in access to healthy foods and their effects on environmental justice. American Journal of Public Health, 102(9), 1644-1654.

Joseph, R. P., Royse, K. E., Benitez, T. J., & Pekmezi, D. W. (2014). Physical activity and quality of life among university students: exploring self-efficacy, self-esteem, and affect as potential mediators. Quality of Life Research: An International Journal of Quality of Life Aspects of Treatment, Care and Rehabilitation, 23(2), 659-667.

Oladipo, J. A. (2014). Utilization of health care services in rural and urban areas: A determinant factor in planning and managing health care delivery systems. African Health Sciences, 14(2), 322-333.

Zimmerman, E., Woolf, S., & Haley, A. (2013). Understanding the relationship between education and health. Web.