The environment of society is linked to people’s health over wide fields. Among many factors on health, socio-economic factors are a measurable and significant factor such as employment, education, income and housing. As a future health professional, it is necessary to understand the society and these sociological impacts on health in more multifaceted ways. Hence, this essay will define and discuss the four of socio-economical determinants of health and the relationships between them. Furthermore, it will explain how two determinants affect New Zealand society. Lastly, it will reflect how this study will affect the future nursing care that I will accomplish.
“The good health and wellbeing of the population is largely a product of the settings in which people live, work and play” (Public Health Advisory Committee [PHAC], 2007, p.3). In other word, these social circumstances on health surrounding people might be the socioeconomic determinants.
The four determinants of health
First of all, this essay will scrutinize the four of socioeconomic determinants and their correlation. Firstly, PHAC (2004) reported that through employment people are able to maintain their life to be stable mentally and physically (p.25). Being employed is the social involvement which produces self esteem and prevents confinement from society. And it is a way of creating income. Reversely, unemployment may be associated with detrimental impacts on mental health such as increasing the rate of suicide (p.26) and decreasing income. Secondly, this report also pointed out that education level is related to health status. People who educated in high are healthier than in low (p.30). Above all, educating children is the most effective way of changing overall health status in society. The reason why is that education enables children to acquire useful health information which affects their future lifestyle such as smoking, food and alcohol in a beneficial way (Wadsworth, 1997, as cited in National Health Committee [NHC], 1998, p.28).
Income is far-reaching, which is related to human’s basic necessities such as food and shelter. PHAC (2004) highlighted that insufficient income hinders a healthy life. Lower income family is not capable of affording good housing, nutrient food and education. Particularly, Maori and Pacific families are more likely to affect by low income due to the high proportion of young generation (p.21). Besides, children are vulnerable under low income circumstance (p.24). Finally, housing is one of the essential constitutes of human life: food, clothes and shelter. As the cost of house is increasing, capability for other needs is decreasing (p. 31). Besides, internal environment of the house like overcrowding and high humidity influences on health directly (p.32). This affects low income families and the unemployed more hardly (p.33). All in all, In the case of low socioeconomic groups, it is more detrimental than high (PHAC, 2004). The four determinants are inextricably interwoven while having the possibility to enhance by society (p.6).
Education and Maori
Despite the fact that New Zealand is an egalitarian society and a developed welfare country, there is health problems needed to be improved. First concern is indigenous people’s health regarding lower level of education. Specifically, it is about the correlation between health literacy skill and education. Lower level of education may lead to poor health literacy skill. According to Ministry of Health (MOH, 2010a), 80 per cent of Maori men and 75 per cent of Maori women are very low level in health literacy skill. Moreover, lowest groups were 50-65, 16-18 and 19-24 year groups of Maori (p.iii). A reason why education is important to enhance Maori health is that 53 per cent of Maori population is under 25 years old in 2006. Nonetheless, the percentage of Maori students who are finished at secondary school with qualification is 43.4 per cent. However, in the case of non- Maori, it is 63.7 per cent (MOH, 2010b, p.17). What is surprising is that young Maori population is linked to both a poorest health literacy group and low secondary education. A positive correlation was found between health literacy skill and education is that people who are educated in tertiary level showed enhanced health literacy skill than others have not (MOH, 2010a). Education is a strong health determinant because it widens health information and improves self caring capability autonomously by individuals. That can be a strong prevention from disease to the future generation.
Housing and Maori
Another concern of indigenous people is poor housing condition. If a house is in high humid, chill and overcrowded, it is detrimental. Firstly, high humidity and cold temperature are causing respiratory disease (World Health Organisation, as cited in Asthma Foundation, n.d.). According to Heeringa (2011), “One in six adults and one in four children suffer from asthma in New Zealandâ€¦ Air that is cold, or polluted with dust mites, moulds or fumes trigger asthmaâ€¦the second highest in the world just behind the UK” (para.24). Among many asthma suffering people aged 5 to 34, hospitalized Maori between 2006 and 2008 were as double as non-Maori (MOH, as cited in Maori health, 2010). Secondly, overcrowding is a problematic factor in New Zealand. PHAC (2004) highlighted that living in an overcrowding house increased the rate of children’s death due to the contagion of fatal disease (p.32). Particularly, according to MOH (2010b), overcrowding rate of Maori family in 2006 were three times higher than non-Maori. Meningococcal disease rate of 0 to 4 aged Maori groups were also as high as the rate of overcrowding (Environmental Science and Research, n.d., as cited in Maori health, 2010). Most of all, these statistics represent that Maori is the greater part of lowest socio-economic status in New Zealand, who cannot afford to comfortable houses(NHC,1998). All in all, while Maori population grows fast (MOH, 2010b), Maori is one of the groups that is influenced severely by poor housing environment.
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What I have learnt
A study about strong correlation between society and health will assist my future nursing practice in terms of nurses’ perception. When I was realizing many factors, they seemed to be general sociological phenomenon. However, they influenced people’s health, even causing illness. Nurses’ knowledge should be wider than I thought before. From caring for patients’ physical wound to concerning the socioeconomic environment of the patients might be the nurses’ understanding. Levien (2008) stated that “â€¦a nurse to be a resource to communities and individuals affected by this disease and enable a greater level of awareness and understanding of the risk factors and how to reduce them” (para. 17). This is my understanding. For example, I will communicate with a patient in easy words depending on his/her education level, instead of medical terminology. What’s more, I can give patients some information about preventing communicable disease from babies and children at home and immunization. Therefore, I will contemplate circumstances surrounding patients as a nurse in the future.
In conclusion, health determinants are significant factors within the health system as well as the whole society. Unemployment, low level of education, insufficient income and poor housing are related to poor health condition in New Zealand. These determinants are more likely to affect some group like Maori. Maori health is likely to be affected by low education level and poor housing detrimentally. Therefore, all individual’s health is a complex byproduct of society. If every individual is healthy, their society can be healthy and prosperous.
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