Social Determinants of Rural and Northern Community Health

Research has increasingly linked the health of individuals to the integrity of a community’s social fabric, the extent to which residents in a community trust each other and participate in community activities, and on the networks of communication and exchange between community members. However, little research on this “”social capital”” has been conducted in British Columbia. Yet, communities in British Columbia are facing an accelerated pace of structural change due to the effects of globalization, changes over the past 15 years in health and welfare systems, and industrial restructuring. It is imperative, particularly in the Central and Northern Interior of the province, where an unprecedented eco-economic crisis is unfolding due to the pine-beetle infestation, that the impacts of these changes in community structure and functioning and, in turn, their impacts on social capital and the health and the health and educational status of children and adolescents are investigated in a way that may lead to amelioration. Building on the foundation of over a decade of work on the social determinants of workplace and community health and a recently awarded New Emerging Team grant to investigate the social determinants of community health in British Columbia, this program of research will further methodological developments in community health research while strengthening the base for community health research at the University of Victoria, in BC, nationally, and internationally. Given that many other communities in Canada, as well as in other nations, similar challenges, the knowledge, conclusions, and recommendations arising from this program of research will be applicable in other jurisdictions.