Social Determinants of Health: Understanding the Factors That Shape Well-Being

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When we think of living a healthy life, what comes to mind first for most of us is eating properly and exercising — but many other factors have an impact. Did you know that non-medical markers such as workplace conditions and level of education can also determine your health? This blog explores the social determinants of health and how your organization can address them through wellness programs. 

What Are the Social Determinants of Health?

The concept of social determinants of health, as the CDC outlines, encompasses a broad spectrum of non-medical factors that impact people’s well-being, such as workplace conditions, living environment, and education level. Here, we’ll explore what they are and how they impact a person’s health. 

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Education Level

Education plays a crucial role in health outcomes; research shows that people with higher levels of education tend to be healthier and live longer. A more extensive education is often associated with better health awareness and access to high-paying jobs with better healthcare benefits. The U.S. government program Healthy People 2030 is addressing this problem with initiatives that facilitate access to higher education.

Health Care Access

Accessible and affordable healthcare services are essential for individuals’ overall health. Factors such as the proximity of healthcare facilities, transportation, time off for appointments, and insurance coverage all affect whether people are likely to seek preventive care and timely medical assistance.

Neighborhood and Environment

The environment in which individuals live profoundly affects their health. Air and water quality, availability of green spaces, housing, and conditions contribute to health outcomes. High-income neighborhoods often have more green spaces, better sports and exercise facilities, and higher air quality, which support better health.

Social Health and Community

Social connections and community promote health and well-being. Strong social networks provide emotional support, reduce stress levels, and foster a sense of belonging, all of which contribute to better health outcomes.


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Financial Health

Financial resources influence access to nutritious food, safe housing, quality education, and healthcare services. Conversely, individuals facing financial hardships are more likely to experience stress-related health issues and struggle to maintain healthy lifestyles. 

Addressing Social Determinants: Promoting Health Equity in the Workplace

Addressing these disparities requires collaboration across sectors like public health, education, transportation, and housing to improve environmental conditions. However, employers can help by including support measures in the workplace through their corporate wellness initiatives. 

Organizations seeking to foster a workplace culture that prioritizes health equity can tailor their corporate benefits packages to ensure all employees have equal opportunities to achieve optimal well-being. However, implementing those changes can be tricky without a plan. 

Follow these six steps to achieve health equity in your organization:

1.    Research and Collect Data

Gathering data on social determinants and health outcomes can help employers understand the challenges employees are facing. For instance, conducting surveys or analyzing demographic information can reveal disparities in access to healthcare or exposure to workplace stressors. 

What to do: 

  • Conduct focus groups and surveys that explore employees' perceptions of the existing workplace wellness initiatives. Invite suggestions and feedback. 

2.    Develop Policy Interventions

Apply the findings from the previous step as a basis for designing and implementing policies that address social determinants. This could involve initiatives expanding the benefits package to improve access to healthcare services, offering flexible working arrangements for better work-life balance. 

What to do: 

  • Implement flexible work schedules and offer subsidies for public transportation.
  • Expand your health benefits packages. 

3.    Educate and Foster Wellness Awareness

Include educational resources in your wellness program to help employees apply well-being principles and to ensure they are aware of the program and its benefits. This may include workshops for stress management, nutrition, or mental health awareness campaigns. 

What to do: 

  • Implement mindfulness techniques to reduce workplace stress.
  • Provide resources such as gym memberships and nutritious food options that promote healthy habits. 

4.    Engage Management and Create a Community

Securing buy-in from organizational leaders is crucial for the success of workplace wellness initiatives. Companies can promote a supportive environment through group activities and initiatives. 

What to do: 

  • Organize team-building activities such as group fitness challenges, volunteering events, and weekend retreats.
  • Create employee resource groups to encourage inclusion and support. 

5.    Address Structural Racism and Discrimination in the Wellness Policy

Recognizing and addressing systemic issues such as racism and discrimination are essential for promoting health equity. Organizations should revise wellness policies to ensure they are inclusive and equitable for all employees. 

What to do: 

  • Use the findings of your research to identify areas characterized by or vulnerable to racism and discrimination.
  • Implement anti-discrimination training for managers and employees.
  • Revise hiring and promotion practices to mitigate biases. 

6.    Measure Progress and Outcomes

Defining metrics to track the wellness program's performance is critical. Developing metrics to track improvements in health equity allows companies to evaluate the effectiveness of their wellness programs and make necessary adjustments.

What to do:

  • Track changes in employee health outcomes over time through regular health assessments.
  • Ask for employee feedback through surveys to evaluate their satisfaction with the wellness initiatives.

How CoreHealth Can Help You Design a Wellness Program That Promotes Health Equality

By designing a wellness program that addresses the social determinants of health that are affecting your workforce, your organization can ensure employees are supported and provided the opportunities they need to be healthy and productive. CoreHealth Your Way is an all-in-one multilingual platform designed to address diverse and dynamic workforces. Use its suite of optimized and customizable solutions to create a wellness program tailored to your employees’ needs. 

Want to achieve health equality for your employees? Discover how CoreHealth's corporate wellness platform can help support your wellness programs. Speak to one of our technology experts today!

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Want to learn more about health equality? Check out these articles from our blog:

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