Social factors and health Outcome

Efforts to improve health in the US have conventionally observed healthcare system outcomes as the central solution. Nonetheless, improving healthcare outcomes will require an approach that is necessary to address non-healthcare factors such as social factors. Social factors are the conditions where individuals are born, live, work, including healthcare access (Islam, M. M. (2019). Social factors have a significant influence on health inequalities-unfair and avoidable differences. Research indicates these factors can be more effective than healthcare or lifestyle choices in influencing health. These factors include education, stigma, racism, income level, religion, ethnicity, and geographical location (Daniel et al., 2018). Education and race are some of the social factors that influence health outcomes.

How Education and racism influence health Outcomes



Good education and skills can assist in developing a solid foundation for support through accessing good work, lifelong problem-solving capacity, lifelong health habits, and living in a healthy environment. Education is the route for many generations to gain financial security, income, and success. Research indicates high learned individuals live healthier and longer than the less educated, with the disparity constantly widening (Zajacova et al., 2018). Comprehending the educational factor at the macro-level context is vital in reducing health disparities and improving the populace’s health condition (Daniel et al., 2018). The American youths continue to experience unequal education opportunities depending on their schools, neighborhood, skin color, and family financial resources. In addition to the dramatic structural changes that magnify the economic gap depending on education, policies that previously protected vulnerable groups have been dismantled. These factors are rarely considered in health studies and provision.


Race influences health in the US and many other societies. Here, racism refers to overt, intentional, discriminatory action, attitude, and deep-seated social structure that systematically constrains some individuals based on their race. African Americans and Latinos are the most affected race and live in disadvantaged neighborhoods with low education and health quality. Research indicates that African Americans and other minority groups experience a higher rate of illness and deaths across broad ranges of diseases, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and asthma (Islam, M. M. (2019). Racism can also have micro effects through stress from related experiences of racial bias from prejudice incidences. The association between discrimination of health outcomes and race observed in the US is also found in other nations.

Medical Social Interventions  

Where health practitioners are practicing and the level of disadvantage their patients encounter informs the intervention a social worker can implement. Intervention for medical social workers includes asking patients about their social challenges and referring them to quality care. Others intervention includes improving quality care, counseling, and partnering with community groups and local leaders to improve the health sectors (Saxe et al., 2019). These measures are heavily dependent on medical social workers. Furthermore, these interventions require interpersonal skills and minimal investment in training but have a monumental impact. Medical social workers have a major role in the health sector, given that a  third of US adults have inadequate health literacy(Liechty, 2011). These workers are well-positioned to support patients with social determining factors in dealing with challenges, raising awareness, and creating better living and health conditions.

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Tasks a social worker might need to complete

Medical social workers need to be trained adequately to address social determinates of health and promote equitable health outcomes (Saxe et al., 2019). Some of the task they might require to reach desirable results includes communication facilitation between the health practitioners and patients, and their family, patients’ rights advocating, follow-up with the patient., and directing patients where to access necessary resources.

The tremendous advances in knowledge in the past three decades illustrate the significance of social factors as powerful health outcome determinants. The question is not whether social factors are necessary, but how these factors operate and ways healthcare providers can effectively intervene. For instance, education and race are social factors that require health-promoting interventions to prevent inequity. Medical social workers can be a fundamental resource for health equity for all Americans, including those facing social obstacles.


Islam, M. M. (2019). Social determinants of health and related inequalities: confusion and implications. Frontiers in public health7, 11.

Zajacova, A., & Lawrence, E. M. (2018). The relationship between education and health: reducing disparities through a contextual approach. Annual review of public health39, 273-289.

Saxe Zerden, L. D., Lombardi, B. M., & Jones, A. (2019). Social workers in integrated health care: Improving care throughout the life course. Social Work in Health Care58(1), 142-149.

Daniel, H., Bornstein, S. S., Kane, G. C., & Health and Public Policy Committee of the American College of Physicians*. (2018). Addressing social determinants to improve patient care and promote health equity: an American College of Physicians position paper. Annals of internal medicine168(8), 577-578

Liechty, J. M. (2011). Health literacy: Critical opportunities for social work leadership in health care and research. Health & social work36(2), 99-107.