Social determinants are systematic social and economic conditions that influence a person’s health. They include income, housing, education, gender and race, and have a greater impact on individual and population health than biological and environmental conditions. Their impact can even be greater than that of the health care system itself.
This isn’t news to most Canadian physicians. Every day, practitioners see patients whose conditions are largely the product of, or are significantly aggravated by, their social and economic environments. Given this reality, the CMA actively supports poverty reduction initiatives, social programs and other efforts to address social and economic determinants of health. Our policies include recommended actions for governments, physicians, medical schools and other stakeholders.