FNF 100 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Health Literacy, Health Canada, Low Birth Weight

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4 Feb 2016
Health Disparities in Canada
Emerging Definitions of Health
Move to a more complex understanding of health, well-being, including acute and
chronic illness
Health is a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the
absence of disease and infirmity
Influences on Health
Not simply about keeping fit:
Feeling in control
Being able to make choices
Coping with and managing day to day activities
Taking measures to improve life circumstances
Having access to health care
Health Disparities
“One of the major findings within the health disparities literature over the past 15 years is that
disparities exist over a vast array of health and disease outcomes, including risk factors and
behaviours. Whether the health outcome is a measure of health status such as life expectancy, a
subjective appraisal of health, a disease outcome such as diabetes, or a health behaviour such as
smoking, clear outcome disparities exist between different groups in Canadian society.”
(Frohlich et.al. 2006)
Health Disparities
What is the Gatsby Curve? How wealth gets passed on from one generation to the next.
Capital-money, bank accounts, house, funds-gets passed on
Who does it advantage and why? Opportunity, one group is achieving more opportunities then
another (Jobs, health care) opens up a lot of doors to certain types of families and not others
-When certain groups have more advantages then others lower down
-How you manage the debt
Why as health professionals should we care? Socioeconomic status relates to how many
opportunites you have (health care)
-Low income individuals may not be able to access health care
-How the privilege works, who is at the bottom end, who becomes disadvantaged by the
opportunities that some get and some don’t.. who suffers from lack of opportunity
Health Disparities- are differences that occur by gender race and ethnically educational level,
income level, disability, geographic location and/or sexual orientation
Unavoidable: health problems that are related to a person’s genetic structure
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Potentially avoidable: especially when they are related to factors such as living in low-
income neighbourhoods or having unequal access to medical care and information
Examples of Health Disparities
Lack of physicians in rural areas; longer wait times, distance to physician
Unequal treatment of minorities; language barriers
Lack of diversity among health care providers; no similarities to life, don’t know what
their going through
Low health literacy; aren’t aware of own health behaviours, can’t describe pain and
symptoms, aren’t mindful of what their experiencing
Lack of insurance
Exposure to environmental risks; lead in water of the USA
Poverty and cancer; different environments (mining)
Materialist/Structuralist Explanation
The material conditions under which people live their lives
How society organizes and distributes economic and social resources to individuals,
families and communities
Position in the occupational hierarchy influence our health
Cultural/Behavioural Explanations: things that put people at risk, day to day behaviours
Different distribution of health behaviours between socio-economic groups:
Physical activity
“…These causes of health inequities are simply representative of what we call opportunities,
resources and constraints.”
(Frohlich et al. 2006)
Emphasis the societal conditions… rather than the traditional focus on the biomedical and
behavioural risk factors such as cholesterol, body weight physical activity, diet and tobacco use
Social Determinants of Health
Aboriginal Status
Early life
Employment and working condition
Food Security
Income Distribution
Social Exclusion
Layers of Influence
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