There has recently been an increasing appreciation for social determinants of health. The term encompasses the circumstances in which people live, including factors such as income, race, food, housing, transportation and environmental conditions.
Mrs. H’s story is just one of millions of Americans who have become victims of structural violence and suffered from the social determinants of health. With a clearer understanding of the complex factors that contribute to patients’ health outcomes, I now aim to reunite the erroneously separated domains of medicine and social sciences.
The health impacts associated with structural violence prevent vulnerable populations from gaining access to basic needs. This is due to injustices embedded within institutions and social structures that exist in today’s society.
I was sitting in on a patient visit with the attending physician and a senior medical student, and I could tell that both of them were trying to guide him back on track as gently as possible.
Visits to Chicago usually include exploring attractions like the Willis Tower and Cloud Gate (“the Bean”). However, a lesser visited destination, The Hull House maybe the most important site for those of us in the medical field. A turn of the century settlement house, this museum is a reminder of how an integrated model of delivering social services and health care impacted the entire nation.
“Race is a social construct.” This is a statement that we hear frequently but don’t fully believe or understand. In the United States, we may superficially state that race is a social construct, but in reality, we understand it as genetic underpinnings. In medicine especially, race and genetics are often understood as interchangeable.