Social Determinants of Health Reflective Paper

Social Determinants of Health Reflective Paper

As most countries in the shifts focus towards achieving value-based models which impact positive results rather than the conventional treatment procedures, most healthcare leaders continue to include the social determinants of health as integral components of their efforts. Currently, a holistic review of the patients and their overall environment have been factored into healthcare procedures. World Health Organization defines social determinants as the specific conditions in which people are born, and to which they grow, live, and work. This essay reflects on two films “not just a paycheck,” and “place matters." The two films outline common social determinants of health among members of communities. However, the two environments and contexts represented in the videos are different from one another. Additionally, the two videos suggest that both healthcare authorities and the public have equal responsibilities in ensuring sound health.

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Not Just a Paycheck compares the impact of Electrolux Corporation relocation from two localities, Greenville, Michigan and Vastervick, Sweden. Electrolux Corporation relocated from Greenville, Michigan to Juarez, Mexico citing high labor costs in 2006. The company had been a significant employer organization in that locality, and before its relocation, most of the people had lived middle-class lives, owning luxurious homes, buying new cars and affording summer vacations (Joint Center Health Policy Institute,2008). However, on closure and relocation to Juarez, most members of the Greenville community survive on unemployment benefits, poverty, and health benefits, which has been followed by adverse health conditions. In Vastervick, Sweden, however, the closure of Electrolux did not affect workers adversely due to favorable labor policies. Favorable Swedish labor policies guarantee college education, health care, five weeks of paid vacation as well as 16 months of paid leave for new parents and hence mitigated possible health impacts (OECD, 2017).
Place matters present a story of how the location of an individual as a critical social determinant of health. The film focusses on two sites, Gwai Boonkeut, and Richmond in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. While African-Americans predominantly inhabit Richmond, Gwai is mostly inhabited by Latino and Southeast Asian immigrants. The two locations suffer lack of access to jobs, overpopulation, lack of proper nutrition, inadequate and unaffordable housing facilities as well as insecurity (Joint Center Health Policy Institute, 2008). In Gwai, specifically, petrochemical companies continue to release harmful pollutants, which has escalated the rates of diseases such as asthma. However, stress-related complications such as diabetes caused high poverty rates, low incomes, and low education rates also affect the quality of lives and reduce life expectancy. Worse off, the two neighborhoods indulge in high consumption rates of tobacco, liquor, and fast foods with little consumption of fresh produce.
Although both Not Just a Paycheck and Place matters share the concern on economic performance as the critical social determinant factor to health, the two videos are different in the perspective of an economy that affects health. Not Just a Paycheck illustrates the potential roles that labor authorities hold in influencing the health viability of its citizen. The example of how Americans in the Greenville locality suffered economic losses after the relocation of Electrolux Corporation to Juarez Mexico, which ushered in stress-related complications and hence poor qualities of life. At the same time, good Swedish policies cushioned its employees when the equal company closed its operations in Sweden. On the other hand, video Place matters express concern about the roles of an individual's locality in determining their health. The two neighborhoods in California, Richmond and, Gwai are used as examples of communities whose health conditions have been affected by low educations levels, poor housing, low incomes, lack of proper nutrition as well as safety.
Zip Code and street addresses are good predictors of state of health for specific communities and populations. Differences like conditions from one neighborhood to another powerfully inform and hence predicts the health conditions, the type of prevalent diseases as well as the expectancy of lives. Also, due to the differences in the patterns of residential segregation, the differences that exist between the neighborhoods are the determinants of health disparities among different ethnic groups, races as well as socioeconomic classes. Place matters present the conditions of two areas, Gwai Boonkeut, mostly inhabited by Asian immigrants and Richmond in San Francisco, which is mainly inhabited by African American communities (Salleh, 2008). On top of low income and poor education backgrounds, the two neighborhoods suffer lack of basic amenities such as healthcare, affordable housing, proper nutrition and still indulge in the consumption of harmful drugs such as alcohol and cigarettes. As a result, there have been adverse health conditions characterized by frequent stress-related conditions. Diabetes caused high poverty rates, low incomes, and low education rates also affect the quality of lives and reduce life expectancy.
Despite the contextual difference between Place matters and Not Just a Paycheck, the two videos seem to share a similar overarching theme about the roles of healthcare authorities in ensuring sustainable health for the public. The key message behind the two videos is that governments and citizens hold equal responsibilities in upholding quality public health (Chitewere, Shim, Barker, & Yen, 2017). The Swedish government cushions its citizens against possible stress-related complications caused by loss of jobs, and even though the taxes are high to sustain such policies, the overall life expectancy is higher than that of America. On the other hand, in High Point in West Seattle, a focus to enhance the mixed-income community with health has improved the incomes of the community members with amenities such as playgrounds and exercise stations availed to the public (Kirby, 2011). Therefore, policies that will enhance the income and housing aspects of society translate into sound health.


1. California Newsreel with Vital Pictures, I. (Producer), and Institute, J. C. (Director). (2008). Not Just A Paycheck: How Unemployment Affects Families [Motion Picture].
2. Chitewere, T., Shim, J. K., Barker, J. C., and Yen, I. H. (2017). How Neighborhoods Influence Health: Lessons to be learned from the application of political ecology. Health Place Journal, 45(1), 117–123. doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2017.03.009
3. Kirby, J. B. (2011). Poor People, Poor Places and Access to Health Care in the United States. Social Forces, 87(1), 352-355
4. Newsreel, C., Vital Pictures, I. (Producers), and Institute, J. C. (Director). (2008). Place Matters: Living in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods is Bad for Your Health [Motion Picture].
5. Newsreel, C., Vital Pictures, I. (Producers), and Institute, J. C. (Director). (2008). Place Matters: Living in Disadvantaged Neighborhoods is Bad for Your Health [Motion Picture]
6. Salleh, M. R. (2008). Life Event, Stress, and Illness. Malays Journal of Medical Sciences, 15(4), 9–18.

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