Exploring the impacts of municipal government and local stakeholders groups' interpretations of the social determinants of health model on alleviating local health inequalities

Since the emergence of the population health field in the early 1990s, evidence has mounted demonstrating that health is more than simply a product of health care, biology and lifestyle. Indeed, population health outcomes are influenced by a multitude of factors, including employment, income, education, social supports, physical environment and early childhood development. Taken together, the social determinants of health (SDOH) provide a useful model for understanding the complexity underlying population health inequalities, and for formulating policy responses to address such inequalities. Despite relatively widespread acceptance of this model within academic and health policy circles, there are tremendous barriers to developing public policies and services designed to address health inequalities. These barriers include resistance to inter-sectoral collaboration within federal and provincial governments, as well as inadequate resources for inter-agency collaboration between community-based service providers. Patricia Collins is exploring awareness and application of the SDOH model among municipal politicians and community-based service providers, to determine if awareness translates into action to improve health outcomes. She is also exploring how print media present broader notions of health and well being, such as the social determinants of health, to the public. Patricia’s research will identify where more information on the SDOH model is needed, and how the model can be used to alleviate health inequalities in the GVRD.