What Does the New Research Studies on Health and Socioeconomic Status Telling Us?
The term Health defines a lot of things. It is used in conjunction with other words to talk about the state of being healthy. Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is “an enviable state of full physical, emotional and social well being and not the absence of illness and infirmity”. A number of definitions have also been employed over the years for various purposes. Some are even used interchangeably, while some are used to refer to particular aspects of being healthy.
For example, physical health is often used to describe the presence of one’s capacity to perform the activities of life. Mental health is described in this context as having the capacity to enjoy life, to learn from life experiences, and to cope with challenges and change. Emotional health is necessary for happiness and for leading a productive and meaningful life. The other aspect of health is related to one’s outlook on life and to the persistence of the hope that one has for a better tomorrow. Health is therefore not just a state, but rather a process that begins with the recognition of one’s well being, and it continues with determination, commitment, and motivation in achieving the goal of good health.
Health is now recognized as a major challenge in public health, as more people are becoming aware of its interdependence with other factors such as nutrition and diet, active recreation, and general health. All these elements interact to affect the level of health and the quality of life. The promotion of wellness through education has been a focus since the mid-nineties, when studies linked lack of exercise, poor nutritional habits, and unhealthy lifestyle to a number of diseases and illnesses. Public health has become an important issue in today’s society, with many organizations focusing on issues that address health at the community level. These include issues such as obesity, substance abuse, and depression.
One of the key factors linking poor socioeconomic status with increased mortality rate is the unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle. This could be due to social and environmental conditions. However, socioeconomic status did not play an important role when researchers studied people who suffer from diabetes and cardiac disease or those who smoke, compared with those who are healthier. They found no significant difference between the two groups in terms of their socioeconomic status. This observation indicates that poor socioeconomic status cannot account for the pattern of differences in health between rich and poor, rich and middle class, and those in the poorer socio-economic group.
Research also suggests that health disparities are now worse than they have ever been. Researchers have found that the continuing differences in health profiles among U.S. citizens are largely caused by social determinants such as race and gender. More recently, studies have suggested that health disparities may stem from differences in health profiles between richer and poorer minority groups. Researchers have identified three major factors that account for the gaps: lower socioeconomic status of blacks and whites, higher health disparities between Asian and American Indians, and poor health coverage for Hispanics.
Overall, the present study shows that race and gender have very little effect on the patterns of mortality and illness. However, differences in perceived social environment were found to account for some of the differences in physical environment. The study also points out that although there are several sociocultural factors, the lack of physical environment, and poor nutrition may affect the causes of illness and mortality. These findings emphasize the importance of maintaining a good social environment and good health.