Social Determinants of Health in a Global Context

This course defines health inequalities as unfair and avoidable differences in health, and applies a social determinants of health (SDOH) framework to address two related central questions. First, what are the social conditions that are responsible for health inequalities? Second, how are social inequalities in health generated and reproduced over time and place?

Answering the former question involves identifying the non-medical factors and social conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age that are primarily responsible for health inequalities. This includes SDOH such as socioeconomic position, social class, economic inequality, race, ethnicity, nationality, migration, gender, residential environments, and work organizations. Addressing the latter question involves understanding how SDOH are affected by unequal power relations, including social closure, exploitation, racism, patriarchy, housing segregation, and employment relations.

By examining which SDOH produce health inequalities and how social relations affect the distribution of SDOH, this course aims to develop a more critical understanding of why some people and populations are healthier than others. Given that SDOH is a multidisciplinary field of study, we will be guided by the theoretical and methodological insights ranging from social epidemiology to medical sociology and political economy. Moreover, the scope of this courses context will include both North America as well as global and comparative contexts.

Students will learn key health inequality concepts and methods, be exposed to the state of the art literature on SDOH, and will develop a critical perspective on structured forms of inequality that creates advantaged and disadvantaged groups. This course is specifically designed to further develop your knowledge, skill, and judgment competencies related to the Canadian National Association categories of research, leadership, and change agent. In-class 3 hours/week

Program Requirements Course Type: Core Course Clinical Field