Read “The Solid Facts”  write a 250 word summary.  Please discuss each section seperately.The Social GradientStressEarly lifeSocial ExclusionWorkUnemploymentSocial SupportAddictionFood Transport111111111111111.pdfThe WHO Regional
Office for Europe
Poorer people live shorter lives and are more often ill than
the rich. This disparity has drawn attention to the remarkable
sensitivity of health to the social environment.
This publication examines this social gradient in health,
and explains how psychological and social influences affect
physical health and longevity. It then looks at what is known
about the most important social determinants of health
today, and the role that public policy can play in shaping a
social environment that is more conducive to better health.
This second edition relies on the most up-to-date sources in
its selection and description of the main social determinants
of health in our society today. Key research sources are
given for each: stress, early life, social exclusion, working
conditions, unemployment, social support, addiction, healthy
food and transport policy.
Policy and action for health need to address the social
determinants of health, attacking the causes of ill health
before they can lead to problems. This is a challenging
task for both decision-makers and public health actors and
advocates. This publication provides the facts and the policy
options that will enable them to act.
ISBN 92 890 1371 0
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SOCIAL
DETERMINANTS
OF HEALTH
International
Centre for
Health and
Society
SOCIAL
DE TER MI NANTS
OF HEALTH
THE
SOLID
FACTS
SECOND EDITION
Edited by Richard Wilkinson and Michael Marmot
WHO Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Social determinants of health: the solid facts. 2nd edition / edited by
Richard Wilkinson and Michael Marmot.
1.Socioeconomic factors 2.Social environment 3.Social support
4.Health behavior 5.Health status 6.Public health 7.Health promotion
8.Europe I.Wilkinson, Richard II.Marmot, Michael.
ISBN 92 890 1371 0
(NLM Classification : WA 30)
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Publications
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ISBN 92 890 1371 0
© World Health Organization 2003
All rights reserved. The Regional Office for Europe of the World Health Organization welcomes requests for permission to reproduce or translate its publications,
in part or in full.
The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part
of the World Health Organization concerning the legal status of any country,
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The World Health Organization does not warrant that the information contained
in this publication is complete and correct and shall not be liable for any damages incurred as a result of its use. The views expressed by authors or editors do
not necessarily represent the decisions or the stated policy of the World Health
Organization.
Printed in Denmark
CONTENTS
Foreword
5
Contributors
6
Introduction
7
1. The social gradient
10
2. Stress
12
3. Early life
14
4. Social exclusion
16
5. Work
18
6. Unemployment
20
7. Social support
22
8. Addiction
24
9. Food
26
10. Transport
28
WHO and other important sources
30
The World Health Organization was established in 1948
as a specialized agency of the United Nations serving as
the directing and coordinating authority for international
health matters and public health. One of WHO’s
constitutional functions is to provide objective and reliable
information and advice in the field of human health, a
responsibility that it fulfils in part through its publications
programmes. Through its publications, the Organization
seeks to support national health strategies and address the
most pressing public health concerns.
The WHO Regional Office for Europe is one of six
regional offices throughout the world, each with its own
programme geared to the particular health problems of
the countries it serves. The European Region embraces
some 870 million people living in an area stretching from
Greenland in the north and the Mediterranean in the
south to the Pacific shores of the Russian Federation.
The European programme of WHO therefore concentrates
both on the problems associated with industrial and
post-industrial society and on those faced by the emerging
democracies of central and eastern Europe and the former
USSR.
To ensure the widest possible availability of authoritative
information and guidance on health matters, WHO
secures broad international distribution of its publications
and encourages their translation and adaptation. By
helping to promote and protect health and prevent and
control disease, WHO’s books contribute to achieving the
Organization’s principal objective – the attainment by all
people of the highest possible level of health.
WHO Centre for Urban Health
This publication is an initiative of the Centre for Urban
Health, at the WHO Regional Office for Europe. The
technical focus of the work of the Centre is on developing
tools and resource materials in the areas of health
policy, integrated planning for health and sustainable
development, urban planning, governance and social
support. The Centre is responsible for the Healthy Cities
and urban governance programme.
4
FOREWORD
The need and demand for clear scientific
evidence to inform and support the health policymaking process are greater than ever. The field
of the social determinants of health is perhaps
the most complex and challenging of all. It is
concerned with key aspects of people’s living and
working circumstances and with their lifestyles.
It is concerned with the health implications of
economic and social policies, as well as with the
benefits that investing in health policies can bring.
In the past five years, since the publication of the
first edition of Social determinants of health. The
solid facts in 1998, new and stronger scientific
evidence has been developed. This second edition
integrates the new evidence and is enriched with
graphs, further reading and recommended web
sites.
This publication was achieved through close
partnership between the WHO Centre for Urban
Health and the International Centre for Health
and Society, University College London, United
Kingdom. I should like to express my gratitude
to Professor Richard Wilkinson and Professor
Sir Michael Marmot, who edited the publication,
and to thank all the members of the scientific team
who contributed to this important piece of work.
I am convinced that it will be a valuable tool for
broadening the understanding of and stimulating
debate and action on the social determinants of
health.
Our goal is to promote awareness, informed
debate and, above all, action. We want to build
on the success of the first edition, which was
translated into 25 languages and used by decisionmakers at all levels, public health professionals
and academics throughout the European Region
and beyond. The good news is that an increasing
number of Member States today are developing
policies and programmes that explicitly address the
root causes of ill health, health inequalities and the
needs of those who are affected by poverty and
social disadvantage.
Head, Centre for Urban Health
WHO Regional Office for Europe
Agis D. Tsouros
5
CONTRIBUTORS
Professor Mel Bartley, University College London,
United Kingdom
Dr David Blane, Imperial College London, United
Kingdom
Dr Eric Brunner, International Centre for Health and
Society, University College London, United Kingdom
Professor Danny Dorling, School of Geography,
University of Leeds, United Kingdom
Dr Jane Ferrie, University College London, United
Kingdom
Professor Martin Jarvis, Cancer Research UK, Health
Behaviour Unit, University College London, United
Kingdom
Professor Sir Michael Marmot, Department of
Epidemiology and Public Health and International
Centre for Health and Society, University College
London, United Kingdom
Professor Mark McCarthy, University College London,
United Kingdom
Dr Mary Shaw, Department of Social Medicine, Bristol
University, United Kingdom
Professor Aubrey Sheiham, International Centre for
Health and Society, University College London, United
Kingdom
Professor Stephen Stansfeld, Barts and The London,
Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry,
London
Professor Mike Wadsworth, Medical Research Council,
National Survey of Health and Development, University
College London, United Kingdom
Professor Richard Wilkinson, University of Nottingham,
United Kingdom
6
INTRODUCTION
Even in the most affluent countries, people
who are less well off have substantially shorter
life expectancies and more illnesses than the
rich. Not only are these differences in health an
important social injustice, they have also drawn
scientific attention to some of the most powerful
determinants of health standards in modern
societies. They have led in particular to a growing
understanding of the remarkable sensitivity of
health to the social environment and to what
have become known as the social determinants of
health.
can be found in Social determinants of health
(Marmot M, Wilkinson RG, eds. Oxford, Oxford
University Press, 1999), which was prepared to
accompany the first edition of Social determinants
of health. The solid facts. For both publications,
we are indebted to researchers in the forefront
of their fields, most of whom are associated with
the International Centre for Health and Society at
University College London. They have given their
time and expertise to draft the different chapters
of both these publications.
This publication outlines the most important parts
of this new knowledge as it relates to areas of
public policy. The ten topics covered include the
lifelong importance of health determinants in
early childhood, and the effects of poverty, drugs,
working conditions, unemployment, social support,
good food and transport policy. To provide the
background, we start with a discussion of the social
gradient in health, followed by an explanation
of how psychological and social influences affect
physical health and longevity.
Health policy was once thought to be about little
more than the provision and funding of medical
care: the social determinants of health were
discussed only among academics. This is now
changing. While medical care can prolong survival
and improve prognosis after some serious diseases,
more important for the health of the population
as a whole are the social and economic conditions
that make people ill and in need of medical
care in the first place. Nevertheless, universal
access to medical care is clearly one of the social
determinants of health.
In each case, the focus is on the role that public
policy can play in shaping the social environment
in ways conducive to better health: that focus is
maintained whether we are looking at behavioural
factors, such as the quality of parenting, nutrition,
exercise and substance abuse, or at more structural
issues such as unemployment, poverty and the
experience of work. Each of the chapters contains
a brief summary of what has been most reliably
established by research, followed by a list of
implications for public policy. A few key references
to the research are listed at the end of each
chapter, but a fuller discussion of the evidence
Why also, in a new publication on the determinants
of health, is there nothing about genes? The
new discoveries on the human genome are
exciting in the promise they hold for advances
in the understanding and treatment of specific
diseases. But however important individual genetic
susceptibilities to disease may be, the common
causes of the ill health that affects populations are
environmental: they come and go far more quickly
than the slow pace of genetic change because they
reflect the changes in the way we live. This is why
life expectancy has improved so dramatically over
recent generations; it is also why some European
7
© HEALTHY CITIES PROJECT/WHO
People’s
lifestyles and
the conditions
in which
they live and
work strongly
influence their
health.
countries have improved their health while others
have not, and it is why health differences between
different social groups have widened or narrowed
as social and economic conditions have changed.
The evidence on which this publication is based
comes from very large numbers of research
reports – many thousands in all. Some of the
studies have used prospective methods, sometimes
following tens of thousands of people over
8
decades – sometimes from birth. Others have
used cross-sectional methods and have studied
individual, area, national or international data.
Difficulties that have sometimes arisen (perhaps
despite follow-up studies) in determining causality
have been overcome by using evidence from
intervention studies, from so-called natural
experiments, and occasionally from studies of
other primate species. Nevertheless, as both health
and the major influences on it vary substantially
according to levels of economic development, the
reader should keep in mind that the bulk of the
evidence on which this publication is based comes
from rich developed countries and its relevance to
less developed countries may be limited.
Our intention has been to ensure that policy at
all levels – in government, public and private
institutions, workplaces and the community – takes
proper account of recent evidence suggesting a
wider responsibility for creating healthy societies.
But a publication as short as this cannot provide
a comprehensive guide to determinants of public
health. Several areas of health policy, such as
the need to safeguard people from exposure to
toxic materials at work, are left out because they
are well known (though often not adequately
enforced). As exhortations to individual behaviour
change are also a well established approach to
health promotion, and the evidence suggests they
may sometimes have limited effect, there is little
about what individuals can do to improve their
own health. We do, however, emphasize the need
to understand how behaviour is shaped by the
environment and, consistent with approaching
health through its social determinants, recommend
environmental changes that would lead to
healthier behaviour.
social meanings. It is not simply that poor material
circumstances are harmful to health; the social
meaning of being poor, unemployed, socially
excluded, or otherwise stigmatized also matters.
As social beings, we need not only good material
conditions but, from early childhood onwards,
we need to feel valued and appreciated. We need
friends, we need more sociable societies, we need
to feel useful, and we need to exercise a significant
degree of control over meaningful work. Without
these we become more prone to depression, drug
use, anxiety, hostility and feelings of hopelessness,
which all rebound on physical health.
We hope that by tackling some of the material
and social injustices, policy will not only improve
health and well-being, but may also reduce a range
of other social problems that flourish alongside
ill health and are rooted in some of the same
socioeconomic processes.
Richard Wilkinson and Michael Marmot
Given that this publication was put together from
the contributions of acknowledged experts in
each field, what is striking is the extent to which
the sections converge on the need for a more
just and caring society – both economically and
socially. Combining economics, sociology and
psychology with neurobiology and medicine, it
looks as if much depends on understanding the
interaction between material disadvantage and its
9
1.
THE
SOCIAL
GRADIENT
Life expectancy is shorter and most diseases are
more common further down the social ladder in
each society. Health policy must tackle the social
and economic determinants of health.
What is known
Poor social and economic circumstances affect
health throughout life. People further down the
social ladder usually run at least twice the risk of
serious illness and premature death as those near
the top. Nor are the effects confined to the poor:
the social gradient in health runs right across
society, so that even among middle-class office
workers, lower ranking staff suffer much more
disease and earlier death than higher ranking staff
(Fig. 1).
Fig. 1. Occupational class differences in life
expectancy, England and Wales, 1997–1999
Men
OCCUPATIONAL CLASS
Skilled nonmanual
Skilled
manual
Partly skilled
manual
Unskilled
manual
68
70
72
74
76
78
LIFE EXPECTANCY (YEARS)
10
These disadvantages tend to concentrate among
the same people, and their effects on health
accumulate during life. The longer people live in
stressful economic and social circumstances, the
greater the physiological wear and tear they suffer,
and the less likely they are to enjoy a healthy old
age.
If policy fails to address these facts, it not only
ignores the most powerful determinants of health
standards in modern societies, it also ignores one
of the most important social justice issues facing
modern societies.
Women
Managerial
and technical
66
Disadvantage has many forms and may be absolute
or relative. It can include having few family assets,
having a poorer education during adolescence,
having insecure employment, becoming stuck in a
hazardous or dead-end job, living in poor housing,
trying to bring up a family in difficult circumstances
and living on an inadequate retirement pension.
Policy implications
Professional
64
Both material and psychosocial causes contribute to
these differences and their effects extend to most
diseases and causes of death.
80
82
84
• Life contains a series of critical transitions:
emotional and material changes in early
childhood, the move from primary to secondary
education, starting work, leaving home and
starting a family, changing jobs and facing
possible redundancy, and eventually retirement.
Each of these changes can affect health by
pushing people onto a more or less advantaged
path. Because people who have been
disadvantaged in the past are at the greatest risk
in each subsequent transition, welfare policies
need to provide not only safety nets but also
springboards to offset earlier disadvantage.
• Good health involves
reducing levels of
educational failure,
reducing insecurity
and unemployment
and improving housing
standards. Societies that
enable all citizens to play
a full and useful role
in the social, economic
and cultural life of their
society will be healthier
than those where people
face insecurity, exclusion
and deprivation.
© JOACHIM LADEFOGED/POLFOTO
• Other chapters of this
publication cover specific
policy areas and suggest
ways of improving health
that will also reduce the
social gradient in health.
Poor social and economic circumstances affect health throughout life.
KEY SOURCES
Bartley M, Plewis I. Accumulated labour market disadvantage and
limiting long-term illness. International Journal of Epidemiology,
2002, 31:336–341.
Programme Committee on Socio-economic Inequalities in Health
(SEGV-II). Reducing socio-economic inequalities in health. The
Hague, Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, 2001.
Mitchell R, Blane D, Bartley M. Elevated risk of high blood pressure:
climate and the inverse housing law. International Journal of
Epidemiology, 2002, 31:831–838.
van de Mheen H et al. Role of childhood health in the explanation
of socioeconomic inequalities in early adult health. Journal of
Epidemiology and Community Health, 1998, 52:15–19.
Montgomery SM, Berney LR, Blane D. Prepubertal stature and
blood pressure in early old age. Archives of Disease in Childhood,
2000, 82:358–363.
Source of Fig. 1: Donkin A, Goldblatt P, Lynch K. Inequalities in life
expectancy by social class 1972–1999. Health Statistics Quarterly,
2002, 15:5–15.
Morris JN et al. A minimum income for healthy living. Journal of
Epidemiology and Community Health, 2000, 54:885–889.
11
2.
STRESS
Stressful circumstances, making people feel
worried, anxious and unable to cope, are
damaging to health and may lead to premature
death.
What is known
Social and psychological circumstances can cause
long-term stress. Continuing anxiety, insecurity,
low self-esteem, social isolation and lack of control
over work and home life, have powerful effects on
health. Such psychosocial risks accumulate during
life and increase the chances of poor mental health
and premature death. Long periods of anxiety and
© RIKKE STEENVINKEL NORDENHOF/POLFOTO
Lack of control
over work and
home can have
powerful effects
on health.
12
insecurity and the lack of supportive friendships
are damaging in whatever area of life they arise.
The lower people are in the social hierarchy of
industrialized countries, the more common these
problems become.
Why do these psychosocial factors affect physical
health? In emergencies, our hormones and nervous
system prepare us to deal with an immediate
physical threat by triggering the fight or flight
response: raising the heart rate, mobilizing stored
energy, diverting blood to muscles and increasing
alertness. Although the stresses of modern urban
life rarely demand strenuous or even moderate
physical activity, turning on the stress response
diverts energy and resources away from many
physiological processes important to long-term
health maintenance. Both the cardiovascular and
immune systems are affected. For brief periods, this
does not matter; but if people feel tense too often
or the tension goes on for too long, they become
more vulnerable to a wide range of conditions
including infections, diabetes, high blood pressure,
heart attack, stroke, depression and aggression.
KEY SOURCES
Brunner EJ. Stress and the biology of inequality. British Medical
Journal, 1997, 314:1472–1476.
Brunner EJ et al. Adrenocortical, autonomic and inflammatory
causes of the metabolic syndrome. Circulation, 2002, 106:
2659–2665.
Kivimaki M et al. Work stress and risk of cardiovascular
mortality: prospective cohort study of industrial employees.
British Medical Journal, 2002, 325:857–860.
Marmot MG, Stansfeld SA. Stress and heart disease. London,
BMJ Books, 2002.
Marmot MG et al. Contribution of job control and other risk
factors to social variations in coronary heart disease incidence.
Lancet, 1997, 350:235–239.
Policy implications
Although a medical response to the biological
changes that come with stress may be to try to
control them with drugs, attention should be
focused upstream, on reducing the major causes of
chronic stress.
• In schools, workplaces and other institutions, the
quality of the social environment and material
security are often as important to health as
the physical environment. Institutions that can
give people a sense of belonging, participating
and being valued are likely to be healthier
places than those where people feel excluded,
disregarded and used.
• Governments should recognize that welfare
programmes need to address both psychosocial
and material needs: both are sources of anxiety
and insecurity. In particular, governments should
support families with young children, encourage
community activity, combat social isolation,
reduce material and financial insecurity,
and promote coping skills in education and
rehabilitation.
13
3.
E A R LY
LIFE
A good start in life means supporting mothers
and young children: the health impact of early
development and education lasts a lifetime.
What is known
Poor circumstances
during pregnancy
can lead to less
than optimal fetal
development via
a chain that may
include deficiencies
in nutrition during
pregnancy, maternal
stress, a greater
likelihood of maternal
smoking and misuse
of drugs and alcohol,
insufficient exercise
and inadequate
prenatal care. Poor
fetal development is a
risk for health in later
life (Fig. 2).
Infant experience is
important to later
14
© FINN FRANDSEN/POLFOTO
Observational research and intervention studies
show that the foundations of adult health are laid
in early childhood and before birth. Slow growth
and poor emotional support raise the lifetime
risk of poor physical health and reduce physical,
cognitive and emotional functioning in adulthood.
Poor early experience and slow growth become
embedded in biology during the processes of
development, and form the basis of the individual’s
biological and human
capital, which affects
health throughout
life.
health because of the continued malleability of
biological systems. As cognitive, emotional and
sensory inputs programme the brain’s responses,
insecure emotional attachment and poor
stimulation can lead to reduced readiness for
school, low educational attainment, and problem
behaviour, and the risk of social marginalization
in adulthood. Good health-related habits, such as
eating sensibly, exercising and not smoking, are
associated with parental and peer group examples,
and with good education. Slow or retarded physical
growth in infancy is associated with reduced
cardiovascular, respiratory, pancreatic and kidney
development and function, which increase the risk
of illness in adulthood.
Important foundations of adult health are laid in early childhood.
Fig. 2. Risk of diabetes in men aged 64 years by
birth weight
Adjusted for body mass index
• increase the general level of education
and provide equal opportunity of access to
education, to improve the health of mothers
and babies in the long run;
7
6
RISK OF DIABETES (WITH BIRTH WEIGHT >4.3 KG SET AT 1)
Policies for improving health in early life should
aim to:
• provide good nutrition, health education,
and health and preventive care facilities, and
adequate social and economic resources, before
first pregnancies, during pregnancy, and in
infancy, to improve growth and development
before birth and throughout infancy, and
reduce the risk of disease and malnutrition in
infancy; and
5
4
3
2
1
0
4.3
• ensure that parent–child relations are
supported from birth, ideally through home
visiting and the encouragement of good
parental relations with schools, to increase
parental knowledge of children’s emotional
and cognitive needs, to stimulate cognitive
development and pro-social behaviour in the
child, and to prevent child abuse.
BIRTH WEIGHT (KG)
KEY SOURCES
Policy implications
These risks to the developing child are significantly
greater among those in poor socioeconomic
circumstances, and they can best be reduced
through improved preventive health care before
the first pregnancy and for mothers and babies in
pre- and postnatal, infant welfare and school clinics,
and through improvements in the educational levels
of parents and children. Such health and education
programmes have direct benefits. They increase
parents’ awareness of their children’s needs and
their receptivity to information about health and
development, and they increase parental confidence
in their own effectiveness.
Barker DJP. Mothers, babies and disease in later life, 2nd ed.
Edinburgh, Churchill Livingstone, 1998.
Keating DP, Hertzman C, eds. Developmental health and the
wealth of nations. New York, NY, Guilford Press, 1999.
Mehrotra S, Jolly R, eds. Development with a human face.
Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000.
Rutter M, Rutter M. Developing minds: challenge and
continuity across the life span. London, Penguin Books, 1993.
Wallace HM, Giri K, Serrano CV, eds. Health care of women and
children in developing countries, 2nd ed. Santa Monica, CA,
Third Party Publishing, 1995.
Source of Fig. 2: Barker DJP. Mothers, babies and disease in
later life, 2nd ed. Edinburgh, Churchill Livingstone, 1998.
15
4.
SOCIAL
EXCLUSION
Life is short where its quality is poor. By causing
hardship and resentment, poverty, social exclusion
and discrimination cost lives.
What is known
Poverty, relative deprivation and social exclusion
have a major impact on health and premature
death, and the chances of living in poverty are
loaded heavily against some social groups.
Absolute poverty – a lack of the basic material
necessities of life – continues to exist, even in the
richest countries of Europe. The unemployed, many
ethnic minority groups, guest workers, disabled
people, refugees and homeless people are at
particular risk. Those living on the streets suffer the
highest rates of premature death.
Relative poverty means being much poorer than
most people in society and is often defined as living
on less than 60% of the national median income. It
denies people access to decent housing, education,
transport and other factors vital to full participation
in life. Being excluded from the life of society and
treated as less than equal leads to worse health
and greater risks of premature death. The stresses
of living in poverty are particularly harmful during
pregnancy, to babies, children and old people. In
some countries, as much as one quarter of the total
population – and a higher proportion of children
– live in relative poverty (Fig. 3).
Social exclusion also results from racism,
discrimination, stigmatization, hostility and
unemployment. These processes prevent
people from participating in education or
training, and gaining access to services and
citizenship activities. They are socially and
psychologically damaging, materially costly,
and harmful to health. People who live in,
or have left, institutions, such as prisons,
children’s homes and psychiatric hospitals,
are particularly vulnerable.
© JAN GRARUP/POLFOTO
The greater the length of time that people
live in disadvantaged circumstances, the
more likely they are to suffer from a range of
health problems, particularly cardiovascular
disease. People move in and out of poverty
during their lives, so the number of people
who experience poverty and social exclusion
during their lifetime is far higher than the
current number of socially excluded people.
People living on the streets suffer the highest rates
of premature death.
16
Poverty and social exclusion increase the
risks of divorce and separation, disability,
illness, addiction and social isolation and
Fig. 3. Proportion of children living in poor
households (below 50% of the national average
income)
• All citizens should be protected by minimum
income guarantees, minimum wages legislation
and access to services.
30
25
• Interventions to reduce poverty and social
exclusion are needed at both the individual and
the neighbourhood levels.
20
PROPORTION (%)
such policies on rates of death and disease imposes
a public duty to eliminate absolute poverty and
reduce material inequalities.
15
• Legislation can help protect minority and
vulnerable groups from discrimination and social
exclusion.
10
• Public health policies should remove barriers
to health care, social services and affordable
housing.
5
USA
United Kingdom
Russian Federation
Spain
Poland
Canada
Italy
Israel
Hungary
Germany
Denmark
Netherlands
Norway
Belgium
Finland
Sweden
Slovakia
Czech Republic
0
vice versa, forming vicious circles that deepen the
predicament people face.
As well as the direct effects of being poor, health
can also be compromised indirectly by living in
neighbourhoods blighted by concentrations of
deprivation, high unemployment, poor quality
housing, limited access to services and a poor
quality environment.
Policy implications
Through policies on taxes, benefits, employment,
education, economic management, and many
other areas of activity, no government can avoid
having a major impact on the distribution of
income. The indisputable evidence of the effects of
• Labour market, education and family welfare
policies should aim to reduce social stratification.
KEY SOURCES
Claussen B, Davey Smith G, Thelle D. Impact of childhood
and adulthood socio-economic position on cause specific
mortality: the Oslo Mortality Study. Journal of Epidemiology
and Community Health, 2003, 57:40–45.
Kawachi I, Berkman L, eds. Neighborhoods and health. Oxford,
Oxford University Press, 2003.
Mackenbach J, Bakker M, eds. Reducing inequalities in health:
a European perspective. London, Routledge, 2002.
Shaw M, Dorling D, Brimblecombe N. Life chances in Britain by
housing wealth and for the homeless and vulnerably housed.
Environment and Planning A,1999, 31:2239–2248.
Townsend P, Gordon D. World poverty: new policies to defeat
an old enemy. Bristol, The Policy Press, 2002.
Source of Fig. 3: Bradshaw J. Child poverty in comparative
perspective. In: Gordon D, Townsend P. Breadline Europe: the
measurement of poverty. Bristol, The Policy Press, 2000.
17
5.
WORK
Stress in the workplace increases the risk of
disease. People who have more control over their
work have better health.
What is known
In general, having a job is better for health than
having no job. But the social organization of work,
management styles and social relationships in the
workplace all matter for health. Evidence shows
that stress at work plays an important role in
contributing to the large social status differences
in health, sickness absence and premature death.
Several European workplace studies show that
health suffers when people have little opportunity
to use their skills and low decision-making
authority.
Fig. 4. Self-reported level of job control and
incidence of coronary heart disease in men and
women
RISK OF CORONARY HEART DISEASE (WITH HIGH JOB CONTROL SET AT 1.0)
Studies have also examined the role of work
demands. Some show an interaction between
demands and control. Jobs with both high demand
and low control carry special risk. Some evidence
indicates that social support in the workplace may
be protective.
Further, receiving inadequate rewards for the
effort put into work has been found to be
associated with increased cardiovascular risk.
Rewards can take the form of money, status and
self-esteem. Current changes in the labour market
may change the opportunity structure, and make it
harder for people to get appropriate rewards.
These results show that the psychosocial
environment at work is an important determinant
of health and contributor to the social gradient in
ill health.
2.5
2.0
Policy implications
1.5
1.0
High
Intermediate
JOB CONTROL
18
Having little control over one’s work is particularly
strongly related to an increased risk of low
back pain, sickness absence and cardiovascular
disease (Fig. 4). These risks have been found to be
independent of the psychological characteristics
of the people studied. In short, they seem to be
related to the work environment.
Low
Adjusted for
age, sex, length
of follow-up,
effort/reward
imbalance,
employment
grade, coronary
risk factors
and negative
psychological
disposition
• There is no trade-off between health and
productivity at work. A virtuous circle can be
established: improved conditions of work will
lead to a healthier work force, which will lead
to improved productivity, and hence to the
opportunity to create a still healthier, more
productive workplace.
• Appropriate involvement in decision-making
is likely to benefit employees at all levels of an
organization. Mechanisms should therefore
be developed to allow people to influence
the design and improvement of their work
environment, thus enabling employees to
have more control, greater variety and more
opportunities for development at work.
• Good management involves ensuring
appropriate rewards – in terms of money, status
and self-esteem – for all employees.
• To reduce the burden
of musculoskeletal
disorders, workplaces
must be ergonomically
appropriate.
© FIRST LIGHT
• As well as requiring an
effective infrastructure
with legal controls and
powers of inspection,
workplace health
protection should also
include workplace health
services with people
trained in the early
detection of mental health
problems and appropriate
interventions.
Jobs with both high
demand and low control
carry special risk.
KEY SOURCES
Bosma H et al. Two alternative job stress models and risk of
coronary heart disease. American Journal of Public Health, 1998,
88:68–74.
by combining two complementary job stress models in the SHEEP
Study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2002,
56(4):294–300.
Hemingway H, Kuper K, Marmot MG. Psychosocial factors in the
primary and secondary prevention of coronary heart disease: an
updated systematic review of prospective cohort studies. In:
Yusuf S et al., eds. Evidence-based cardiology, 2nd ed. London,
BMJ Books, 2003:181–217.
Schnall P et al. Why the workplace and cardiovascular disease?
Occupational Medicine, State of the Art Reviews, 2000, 15:126.
Marmot MG et al. Contribution of job control to social gradient in
coronary heart disease incidence. Lancet, 1997, 350:235–240.
Peter R et al. and the SHEEP Study Group. Psychosocial work
environment and myocardial infarction: improving risk estimation
Theorell T, Karasek R. The demand-control-support model and CVD.
In: Schnall PL et al., eds. The workplace and cardiovascular disease.
Occupational medicine. Philadelphia, Hanley and Belfus Inc., 2000:
78–83.
Source of Fig. 4: Bosma H et al. Two alternative job stress models
and risk of coronary heart disease. American Journal of Public
Health, 1998, 88:68–74.
19
6.
UNEMPLOYMENT
Job security increases health, well-being and job
satisfaction. Higher rates of unemployment cause
more illness and premature death.
What is known
Unemployment puts health at risk, and the risk
is higher in regions where unemployment is
widespread. Evidence from a number of countries
shows that, even after allowing for other factors,
unemployed people and their families suffer a
substantially increased risk of premature death.
The health effects of unemployment are linked
to both its psychological consequences and
the financial
problems it brings
– especially debt.
Unemployed
people and their
families suffer a
much higher risk
of premature
death.
20
© REUTER/POLFOTO
The health effects
start when people
first feel their jobs
are threatened,
even before they
actually become
unemployed. This
shows that anxiety
about insecurity is
also detrimental
to health. Job
insecurity has
been shown
to increase
effects on mental health (particularly anxiety and
depression), self-reported ill health, heart disease
and risk factors for heart disease. Because very
unsatisfactory or insecure jobs can be as harmful as
unemployment, merely having a job will not always
protect physical and mental health: job quality is
also important (Fig. 5).
During the 1990s, changes in the economies and
labour markets of many industrialized countries
increased feelings of job insecurity. As job
insecurity continues, it acts as a chronic stressor
whose effects grow with the length of exposure; it
increases sickness absence and health service use.
Policy implications
Policy should have three goals: to prevent
unemployment and job insecurity; to reduce the
hardship suffered by the unemployed; and to
restore people to secure jobs.
• Government management of the economy to
reduce the highs and lows of the business cycle
can make an important contribution to job
security and the reduction of unemployment.
• Limitations on working hours may also be
beneficial when pursued alongside job security
and satisfaction.
Fig. 5. Effect of job insecurity and unemployment
on health
300
Poor mental health
RISK OF ILL HEALTH (WITH SECURELY EMPLOYED SET AT 100)
• For those out of work, unemployment benefits
set at a higher proportion of wages are likely to
have a protective effect.
• Credit unions may be beneficial by reducing
debts and increasing social networks.
KEY SOURCES
Beale N, Nethercott S. Job-loss and family morbidity: a study
of a factory closure. Journal of the Royal College of General
Practitioners, 1985, 35:510–514.
Bethune A. Unemployment and mortality. In: Drever F,
Whitehead M, eds. Health inequalities. London, H.M.
Stationery Office, 1997.
Burchell, B. The effects of labour market position, job
insecurity, and unemployment on psychological health.
In: Gallie D, Marsh C, Vogler C, eds. Social change and the
experience of unemployment. Oxford, Oxford University Press,
1994:188–212.
Long-standing illness
250
Ferrie J et al., eds. Labour market changes and job insecurity:
a challenge for social welfare and health promotion.
Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for Europe, 1999 (WHO
Regional Publications, European Series, No. 81) (http:
//www.euro.who.int/document/e66205.pdf, accessed 15
August 2003).
200
150
Iversen L et al. Unemployment and mortality in Denmark.
British Medical Journal, 1987, 295:879–884.
100
Source of Fig. 5: Ferrie JE et al. Employment status and health
after privatisation in white collar civil servants: prospective
cohort study. British Medical Journal, 2001, 322:647–651.
50
0
• To equip people for the work available, high
standards of education and good retraining
schemes are important.
Securely
employed
Insecurely
employed
Unemployed
EMPLOYMENT STATUS
21
7.
SOCIAL
SUPPORT
Friendship, good social relations and strong
supportive networks improve health at home, at
work and in the community.
What is known
Social support and good social relations make an
important contribution to health. Social support
helps give people the emotional and practical
resources they need. Belonging to a social network
of communication and mutual obligation makes
people feel cared for, loved, esteemed and valued.
This has a powerful protective effect on health.
Supportive relationships may also encourage
healthier behaviour patterns.
Support operates on the levels both of the
individual and of society. Social isolation and
exclusion are associated with increased rates of
premature death and poorer chances of survival
after a heart attack (Fig. 6). People who get
less social and emotional support from others
are more likely to experience less well-being,
more depression, a greater risk of pregnancy
complications and higher levels of disability
from chronic diseases. In addition, bad close
relationships can lead to poor mental and physical
health.
The amount of emotional and practical social
support people get varies by social and economic
status. Poverty can contribute to social exclusion
and isolation.
Social cohesion – defined as the quality of social
relationships and the existence of trust, mutual
obligations and respect in communities or in the
wider society – helps to protect people and their
health. Inequality is corrosive of good social
relations. Societies with high levels of income
inequality tend to have less social cohesion
and more violent crime. High levels of
mutual support will protect health while the
breakdown of social relations, sometimes
following greater inequality, reduces trust
and increases levels of violence. A study of a
community with initially high levels of social
cohesion showed low rates of coronary heart
disease. When social cohesion declined, heart
disease rates rose.
© FOTOKHRONIKA/POLFOTO
Policy implications
Belonging to a social network makes people feel cared for.
22
Experiments suggest that good social
relations can reduce the physiological
response to stress. Intervention studies have
shown that providing social support can
improve patient recovery rates from several
different conditions. It can also improve
pregnancy outcome in vulnerable groups of
women.
Fig. 6. Level of social integration and mortality in five prospective studies
AGE-ADJUSTED MORTALITY RATE
Females
Males
0.5
0.5
0.4
0.4
Evans County, USA (whites)
Evans County, USA (blacks)
Evans County, USA (blacks)
0.3
0.3
Evans
County,
0.2 USA (whites)
0.2
0.1
Tecumseh, USA
Alameda County,
USA
Alameda County,
USA
Gothenburg, Sweden
0.1
Tecumseh, USA
Eastern Finland
Eastern Finland
0
0
Low
LEVEL OF SOCIAL INTEGRATION
High
Low
LEVEL OF SOCIAL INTEGRATION
High
• Reducing social and economic inequalities and
reducing social exclusion can lead to greater social
cohesiveness and better standards of health.
• Designing facilities to encourage meeting and
social interaction in communities could improve
mental health.
• Improving the social environment in schools, in
the workplace and in the community more widely,
will help people feel valued and supported in
more areas of their lives and will contribute to
their health, especially their mental health.
• In all areas of both personal and institutional
life, practices that cast some as socially inferior or
less valuable should be avoided because they are
socially divisive.
KEY SOURCES
Berkman LF, Syme SL. Social networks, host resistance and
mortality: a nine year follow-up of Alameda County residents.
American Journal of Epidemiology, 1979, 109:186–204.
Kawachi I et al. A prospective study of social networks in relation to
total mortality and cardiovascular disease in men in the USA. Journal
of Epidemiology and Community Health, 1996, 50(3):245–251.
Hsieh CC, Pugh MD. Poverty, income inequality, and violent crime:
a meta-analysis of recent aggregate data studies. Criminal Justice
Review, 1993, 18:182–202.
Oxman TE et al. Social support and depressive symptoms in the
elderly. American Journal of Epidemiology, 1992, 135:356–368.
Kaplan GA et al. Social connections and mortality from all causes
and from cardiovascular disease: prospective evidence from
eastern Finland. American Journal of Epidemiology, 1988, 128:
370–380.
Sampson RJ, Raudenbush SW, Earls F. Neighborhoods and violent
crime: a multilevel study of collective efficacy. Science, 1997, 277:
918–924.
Source of Fig. 6: House JS, Landis KR, Umberson D. Social
relationships and health. Science, 1988, 241:540–545.
23
8.
ADDICTION
Individuals turn to alcohol, drugs and tobacco and
suffer from their use, but use is influenced by the
wider social setting.
What is known
Drug use is both a response to social breakdown
and an important factor in worsening the resulting
inequalities in health. It offers users a mirage of
escape from adversity and stress, but only makes
their problems worse.
Alcohol dependence, illicit drug use and cigarette
smoking are all closely associated with markers
of social and economic disadvantage (Fig. 7). In
some of the transition economies of central and
eastern Europe, for example, the past decade has
been a time of great social upheaval. Consequently,
deaths linked to alcohol use – such as accidents,
violence, poisoning,
injury and suicide – have
risen sharply. Alcohol
dependence is associated
with violent death in other
countries too.
People turn to alcohol,
drugs and tobacco to
numb the pain of harsh
economic and social
conditions.
24
© TEIT HORNBAK/POLFOTO
The causal pathway
probably runs both ways.
People turn to alcohol to
numb the pain of harsh
economic and social
conditions, and alcohol
dependence leads to
downward social mobility.
The irony is that, apart from a temporary release
from reality, alcohol intensifies the factors that led
to its use in the first place.
The same is true of tobacco. Social deprivation
– whether measured by poor housing, low income,
lone parenthood, unemployment or homelessness
– is associated with high rates of smoking and very
low rates of quitting. Smoking is a major drain
on poor people’s incomes and a huge cause of ill
health and premature death. But nicotine offers no
real relief from stress or improvement in mood.
The use of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs is
fostered by aggressive marketing and promotion
by major transnational companies and by
organized crime. Their activities are a major barrier
to policy initiatives to reduce use among young
people; and their connivance with smuggling,
Fig. 7. Socioeconomic deprivation and risk of
dependence on alcohol, nicotine and drugs, Great
Britain, 1993
10
9
Policy implications
Alcohol
• Work to deal with problems of both legal and
illicit drug use needs not only to support and
treat people who have developed addictive
patterns of use, but also to address the patterns
of social deprivation in which the problems are
rooted.
Nicotine
RISK OF DEPENDENCE (WITH MOST AFFLUENT SET AT 1)
8
especially in the case of tobacco, has hampered
efforts by governments to use price mechanisms to
limit consumption.
Drugs
7
6
• Policies need to regulate availability through
pricing and licensing, and to inform people
about less harmful forms of use, to use health
education to reduce recruitment of young
people and to provide effective treatment
services for addicts.
5
4
3
2
1
0
0
Most
affluent
1
2
DEPRIVATION SCORE
3
4
Most
deprived
• None of these will succeed if the social factors
that breed drug use are left unchanged. Trying
to shift the whole responsibility on to the user is
clearly an inadequate response. This blames the
victim, rather than addressing the complexities
of the social circumstances that generate drug
use. Effective drug policy must therefore be
supported by the broad framework of social and
economic policy.
KEY SOURCES
Bobak M et al. Poverty and smoking. In: Jha P, Chaloupka F, eds.
Tobacco control in developing countries. Oxford, Oxford University
Press, 2000:41–61.
Meltzer H. Economic activity and social functioning of residents with
psychiatric disorders. London, H.M. Stationery Office, 1996 (OPCS
Surveys of Psychiatric Morbidity in Great Britain, Report 6).
Makela P, Valkonen T, Martelin T. Contribution of deaths related to
alcohol use of socioeconomic variation in mortality: register based
follow-up study. British Medical Journal 1997, 315:211–216
Ryan, M. Alcoholism and rising mortality in the Russian Federation.
British Medical Journal, 1995, 310:646–648.
Marsh A, McKay S. Poor smokers. London, Policy Studies Institute,
1994.
Source of Fig. 7: Wardle J et al., eds. Smoking, drinking, physical
activity and screening uptake and health inequalities. In: Gordon D
et al, eds. Inequalities in health. Bristol, The Policy Press, 1999:
213–239.
25
9.
FOOD
Because global market forces control the food
supply, healthy food is a political issue.
What is known
A good diet and adequate food supply are central
for promoting health and well-being. A shortage
of food and lack of variety cause malnutrition
and deficiency diseases. Excess intake (also a form
of malnutrition) contributes to cardiovascular
diseases, diabetes, cancer, degenerative eye
diseases, obesity and dental caries. Food poverty
exists side by side with food plenty. The important
public health issue is the availability and cost of
healthy, nutritious food (Fig. 8). Access to good,
affordable food makes more difference to what
people eat than health education.
Social and economic conditions result in a social
gradient in diet quality that contributes to health
inequalities. The main dietary difference between
social classes is the source of nutrients. In many
countries, the poor tend to substitute cheaper
processed foods for fresh food. High fat intakes
often occur in all social groups. People on low
incomes, such as young families, elderly people and
the unemployed, are least able to eat well.
Dietary goals to prevent chronic diseases
emphasize eating more fresh vegetables, fruits and
pulses (legumes) and more minimally processed
starchy foods, but less animal fat, refined sugars
and salt. Over 100 expert committees have agreed
on these dietary goals.
World food trade is now big business. The
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
and the Common Agricultural Policy of the
European Union allow global market forces
to shape the food supply. International
committees such as Codex Alimentarius,
which determine food quality and safety
standards, lack public health representatives,
and food industry interests are strong. Local
food production can be more sustainable,
more accessible and support the local
economy.
26
© AILEEN ROBERTSON/WHO
Economic growth and improvements in
housing and sanitation brought with
them the epidemiological transition from
infectious to chronic diseases – including
heart disease, stroke and cancer. With it
came a nutritional transition, when diets,
particularly in western Europe, changed to
overconsumption of energy-dense fats and
sugars, producing more obesity. At the same
time, obesity became more common among
the poor than the rich.
Local production for local consumption.
Policy implications
Local, national and international government
agencies, nongovernmental organizations and the
food industry should ensure:
• the integration of public health perspectives
into the food system to provide affordable and
nutritious fresh food for all, especially the most
vulnerable;
• democratic, transparent decision-making and
accountability in all food regulation matters,
with participation by all stakeholders, including
consumers;
• support for sustainable agriculture and food
production methods that conserve natural
resources and the environment;
• a stronger food culture for health, especially
through school education, to foster people’s
AGE-STANDARDIZED DEATH RATES PER 100 000 MEN AGED 35–74
Fig. 8. Mortality from coronary heart disease in
relation to fruit and vegetable supply in selected
European countries
Ukraine
Belarus
700
500
Lithuania
400
300
United Kingdom
Germany
Spain
France
100
Italy
150
200
Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases. Report
of a Joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation. Geneva, World
Health Organization, 2003 (WHO Technical Report Series, No.
916) (http://www.who.int/hpr/NPH/docs/who_fao_expert_
report.pdf, accessed 14 August 2003)
First Action Plan for Food and Nutrition Policy [web pages].
Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2000 (http:
//www.euro.who.int/nutrition/ActionPlan/20020729_1,
accessed 14 August 2003).
Roos G et al. Disparities in vegetable and fruit consumption:
European cases from the north to the south. Public Health
Nutrition, 2001, 4:35–43
Greece
WHO mortality database [database online]. Geneva, World
Health Organization, 25 September 2003.
0
100
KEY SOURCES
Source of Fig. 8: FAOSTAT (Food balance sheets) [database
online]. Rome, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations, 25 September 2003.
Poland
200
• the use of scientifically based nutrient reference
values and food-based dietary guidelines to
facilitate the development and implementation
of policies on food and nutrition.
World Cancer Research Fund. Food, nutrition and the
prevention of cancer: a global perspective. Washington,
DC, American Institute for Cancer Research, 1997 (http:
//www.aicr.org/exreport.html, accessed 14 August 2003).
Russian Federation
600
• the availability of useful information about food,
diet and health, especially aimed at children;
Systematic reviews in nutrition. Transforming the evidence on
nutrition and health into knowledge [web site]. London,
University College London, 2003 (http://
www.nutritionreviews.org/, accessed 14 August 2003).
900
800
knowledge of food and nutrition, cooking skills,
growing food and the social value of preparing
food and eating together;
250
300
350
400
SUPPLY OF FRUIT AND VEGETABLES (KG/PERSON/YEAR)
450
Health for all database [database online]. Copenhagen, WHO
Regional Office for Europe, 25 September 2003.
27
10.
TRANSPORT
Healthy transport means less driving and more
walking and cycling, backed up by better public
transport.
Reduced road traffic decreases harmful pollution
from exhaust. Walking and cycling make minimal
use of non-renewable fuels and do not lead to
global warming. They do not create disease from air
pollution, make little noise and are preferable for
the ecologically compact cities of the future.
What is known
Cycling, walking and the use of public transport
promote health in four ways. They provide exercise,
reduce fatal accidents, increase social contact and
reduce air pollution.
Policy implications
The 21st century must see a reduction in people’s
dependence on cars. Despite their health-damaging
Because mechanization has reduced the exercise
involved in jobs and house work and added to
the growing epidemic of obesity, people need to
find new ways of building exercise into their lives.
Transport policy can play a key role in combating
sedentary lifestyles by reducing reliance on cars,
increasing walking and cycling, and expanding
public transport. Regular exercise protects against
heart disease and, by limiting obesity, reduces the
onset of diabetes. It promotes a sense of well-being
and protects older people from depression.
In contrast to cars, which insulate people from
each other, cycling, walking and public transport
stimulate social interaction on the streets. Road
traffic cuts communities in two and divides one
side of the street from the other. With fewer
pedestrians, streets cease to be social spaces and
isolated pedestrians may fear attack. Further,
suburbs that depend on cars for access isolate
people without cars – particularly the young
and old. Social isolation and lack of community
interaction are strongly associated with poorer
health.
28
© FINN FRANDSEN/POLFOTO
Reducing road traffic would also reduce the toll
of road deaths and serious accidents. Although
accidents involving cars also injure cyclists and
pedestrians, those involving cyclists injure relatively
few people. Well planned urban environments,
which separate cyclists and pedestrians from car
traffic, increase the safety of cycling and walking.
Roads should give precedence to cycling.
Fig. 9. Distance travelled per person by mode of
transport, Great Britain, 1985 and 2000
• Changes in land use are also needed, such
as converting road space into green spaces,
removing car parking spaces, dedicating roads to
the use of pedestrians and cyclists, increasing bus
and cycle lanes, and stopping the growth of lowdensity suburbs and out-of-town supermarkets,
which increase the use of cars.
10000
1985
2000
8000
DISTANCE (KM)
of cars and increasing the costs and penalties of
parking.
6000
• Increasingly, the evidence suggests that building
more roads encourages more car use, while
traffic restrictions may, contrary to expectations,
reduce congestion.
4000
2000
KEY SOURCES
Davies A. Road transport and health. London, British Medical
Association, 1997.
0
Car
Train
Bus
Foot
Cycle
MODE OF TRANSPORT
effects, however, journeys by car are rising rapidly
in all European countries and journeys by foot
or bicycle are falling (Fig. 9). National and local
public policies must reverse these trends. Yet
transport lobbies have strong vested interests.
Many industries – oil, rubber, road building, car
manufacturing, sales and repairs, and advertising
– benefit from the use of cars.
• Roads should give precedence to cycling and
walking for short journeys, especially in towns.
• Public transport should be improved for longer
journeys, with regular and frequent connections
for rural areas.
• Incentives need to be changed, for example,
by reducing state subsidies for road building,
increasing financial support for public transport,
creating tax disincentives for the business use
Fletcher T, McMichael AJ, eds. Health at the crossroads:
transport policy and urban health. New York, NY, Wiley, 1996.
Making the connections: transport and social exclusion.
London, Social Exclusion Unit, Office of the Deputy Prime
Minister, 2003 (http://www.socialexclusionunit.gov.uk/
published.htm, accessed 14 August 2003).
McCarthy M. Transport and health. In: Marmot MG,
Wilkinson R, eds. The social determinants of health. Oxford,
Oxford University Press, 1999:132–154.
Transport, environment and health in Europe: evidence,
initiatives and examples. Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office
for Europe, 2001 (http://www.euro.who.int/eprise/main/who/
progs/hcp/UrbanHealthTopics/20011207_1, accessed 14
August 2003).
Source of Fig. 9:Transport trends 2002: articles (Section 2:
personal travel by mode). London, Department for Transport,
2002 (http://www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_transstats/
documents/page/dft_transstats_506978.hcsp, accessed 18
September 2003).
29
WHO
AND
OTHER
IMPORTANT
Stress
The world health report 2001. Mental health: new
understanding, new hope. Geneva, World Health
Organization, 2001 (http://www.who.int/whr2001/
2001/, accessed 14 August 2003).
World report on violence and health. Geneva,
World Health Organization, 2002 (http:
//www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/
violence/world_report/wrvh1/en/, accessed 14
August 2003).
Early life
A critical link – interventions for physical growth
and psychosocial development: a review.
Geneva, World Health Organization, 1999 (http:
//whqlibdoc.who.int/hq/1999/WHO_CHS_CAH_
99.3.pdf, accessed 14 August 2003).
Macroeconomics and health: investing in health
for economic development. Report of the
Commission on Macroeconomics and Health.
Geneva, World Health Organization, 2001 (http:
//www3.who.int/whosis/menu.cfm?path=cmh&
language=english, accessed 14 August 2003).
Social exclusion
Ziglio E et al., eds. Health systems confront
poverty. Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for
Europe, 2003 (Public Health Case Studies, No. 1)
(http://www.euro.who.int/document/e80225.pdf,
accessed 14 August 2003).
30
SOURCES
Addiction
Framework Convention on Tobacco Control [web
pages]. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2003
(http://www.who.int/gb/fctc/, accessed 14 August
2003).
Global status report on alcohol. Geneva, World
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A physically active life through everyday transport
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31
The WHO Regional
Office for Europe
Poorer people live shorter lives and are more often ill than
the rich. This disparity has drawn attention to the remarkable
sensitivity of health to the social environment.
This publication examines this social gradient in health,
and explains how psychological and social influences affect
physical health and longevity. It then looks at what is known
about the most important social determinants of health
today, and the role that public policy can play in shaping a
social environment that is more conducive to better health.
This second edition relies on the most up-to-date sources in
its selection and description of the main social determinants
of health in our society today. Key research sources are
given for each: stress, early life, social exclusion, working
conditions, unemployment, social support, addiction, healthy
food and transport policy.
Policy and action for health need to address the social
determinants of health, attacking the causes of ill health
before they can lead to problems. This is a challenging
task for both decision-makers and public health actors and
advocates. This publication provides the facts and the policy
options that will enable them to act.
ISBN 92 890 1371 0
World Health Organization
Regional Office for Europe
Scherfigsvej 8
DK-2100 Copenhagen Ø
Denmark
Tel.: +45 39 17 17 17
Fax: +45 39 17 18 18
E-mail: postmaster@euro.who.int
Web site: www.euro.who.int
The World Health
Organization (WHO) is
a specialized agency
of the United Nations
created in 1948 with
primary responsibility
for international
health matters and
public health. The WHO
Regional Office for
Europe is one of
six regional offices
throughout the world,
each with its own
programme geared to
the particular health
conditions of the
countries it serves.
Member States
Albania
Andorra
Armenia
Austria
Azerbaijan
Belarus
Belgium
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bulgaria
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
France
Georgia
Germany
Greece
Hungary
Iceland
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Kazakhstan
Kyrgyzstan
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Monaco
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Republic of Moldova
Romania
Russian Federation
San Marino
Serbia and Montenegro
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Tajikistan
The former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia
Turkey
Turkmenistan
Ukraine
United Kingdom
Uzbekistan
SOCIAL
DETERMINANTS
OF HEALTH
International
Centre for
Health and
Society

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