What determines your health? / Qu’est-ce qui détermine votre santé?

By David Phipps (ResearchImpact, York)

A KM in the AM on social determinants of health brought consensus on the challenge but fell short of imagining solutions. At ResearchImpact-York we will continue this dialogue to try to nudge the discussion forward. What will you do?

La dernière matinée de mobilisation des connaissances (KM in the AM) portant sur les déterminants sociaux de la santé a permis d’arriver à un consensus concernant les défis, mais n’a pu dégager clairement des pistes de solution partagées. Chez ResearchImpact – York, nous poursuivrons le dialogue afin de faire avancer la discussions. Et vous, qu’allez-vous faire?

Denis Raphael (School of Health Policy and Management, York University has written, “the primary factors that shape the health and well-being of Canadians – the factors that will give us longer, better lives – are to be found in the actual living conditions that Canadians experience on a daily basis.” WHO defines these conditions as social determinants of health (SDOH), “the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, including the health system. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels, which are themselves influenced by policy choices. The SDOH are mostly responsible for health inequities.” On April 12, ResearchImpact-York hosted a KM in the AM on social determinants of health (SDOH). Part of our suite of KMb services, KM in the AM is a monthly breakfast meeting where university researchers and non-academic stakeholders exchange information and sow the seeds of future collaborations.

Mina Singh and Beryl Pilkington from York’s School of Nursing presented along with Carolyn Mooi from the Heart & Stroke Foundation and Nicky Wright from the York Region District School Board. The presentations kicked off a discussion among the 18 attendees from community and municipal agencies and throughout York Region. Discussion (and there was plenty) focused on the health outcomes related to SDOH: immigration, poverty, homelessness, disability, seniors with people experiencing increased health challenges when more than one of these SDOH intersect. Everyone in the room could speak to the challenges but few were moving to solutions. Local solutions like Mississauga’s investment in community fitness program like Pilates were cited as one example. Nicky charged us to go home and help one person that evening illustrating that we all bear responsibly for being part of the solution. 

But therein lays the challenge. If we’re all responsible, what next? This is an issue that cuts across neighbourhoods, communities, municipalities and engages multiple Provincial ministries (as one participant said, “every Minister should be a Minister of Health”). Where do we start with a challenge so large? Who takes the next step to move this agenda forward? KMb as a process that connects research to social and health outcomes will be at the table. We will help to facilitate and enable conversations but who is the champion that will lead this endeavour?

York University has a considerable stake in this. York’s Faculty of Health, the York Institute for Health Research, Homeless Hub, Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Settlement, Centre for Refugee Studies, Gender and Work Database and the TD Centre for Community Engagement are just some of the university resources that have a stake in SDOH. ResearchImpact-York will focus our summer clear language research summary project on SDOH. We will commit to canvassing our internal and external stakeholders for interest in a KM in the PM session on SDOH. More people. More time. More ideas for developing a SDOH agenda for York Region.

Denis Raphael also wrote. “Canadians require a means of having knowledge applied in the service of developing and implementing public policies that would address the SDOH and related outcomes”. Along with community and regional champions, ResearchImpact-York will endeavour to be one of those means.

That’s our commitment. What’s yours?

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3 thoughts on “What determines your health? / Qu’est-ce qui détermine votre santé?

  1. Hey great article! I think most of us know by now, that when your talking about seniors health, the best defence is prevention. I began a regular exercise routine at the ripe age of 54 and haven’t looked back… If anyone is interested in finding out more about my journey you can take a look at my youtube video, http://youtu.be/EPgpt8vkiUI , regards, Davis R

  2. Pingback: Small steps towards a big problem: Addressing the social determinants of health at the community level | Healthy Policies

  3. Don’t know how this particular session on SDOH went, nor how participants conceptualized the issues and elements – but would have been great to have been there. In my experience with general discussions on SDOH, I’ve found that groups usually acknowledge the interconnection of the determinants (“like in a web”, I’ve often heard), and there’s usually reference to Bronfenbrenner and ecologies and the like. However groups often head back to main effect talk, discrete features, trajectories, and the like. In my mind there’s a need to move SDOH frameworks in the direction of a dynamic systems framework, as capturing better what goes on in human development. Connected to the notion that “we’re all responsible” (see blog text) is the dynamic systems notion that we’re all in fact already intimately connected, and that whatever we do will have consequences. However that feature is both advantage and stumbling block in both understanding and working out practical courses of action. (If ResearchImpact-York is working on a KMb initiative re. SDOH this summer, note that I’d be interested in participating.)

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