Social Determinants of Health

The social determinants of health (SDH) are non-medical factors that have a major influence on our health. They are social and economic factors that shape the conditions in which we live, learn, work and play.  These factors influence a person's opportunity to be healthy, their risk of illness, health behaviours, and healthy life expectancy.

Health promotion uses a "social determinants of health" lens to help individuals, communities, populations, and governments better understand the many factors that influence their health and wellbeing in order to determine what can be done to improve them.

Addressing the social determinants of health is an important part of primary prevention and increasing population impact, i.e. 'upstream prevention'. 

The most common social determinants that affect our health, include:

  • Income and social status
  • Education and literacy
  • Employment and working conditions
  • Childhood experiences
  • Physical environments
  • Social supports and coping skills
  • Healthy behaviours
  • Access to health services
  • Biology and genetics
  • Gender
  • Race/Racism
  • Culture


Health equity