The Socioeconomic Determinants of Health and Their Impact on African American Healthcare Delivery



This chapter deals with what many consider the most important cause of the health problems suffered by blacks and other minorities in the United States. A precise definition of the socioeconomic determinants of health is difficult to describe in a brief statement, but it may be generally thought of as those factors that derive from unhealthy conditions that exist where people live, work, and play. Some would describe it as the sum total of negative health-related factors that impinge upon a person in his or her environment, which includes poor housing, inferior wages, contaminated drinking water (think of Flint, Michigan), substandard hospitals, lack of sufficient recreational and educational facilities, etc. Whatever definition that is used is bound to be wanting, because there are myriad causes of this phenomenon; it is truly indescribable, and as it is said, it is hard to get one’s arms around it. The World Health Organization (WHO) attempted a definition which is “the conditions into which people are born, grow, live, work, and age”; this involves complex interactions between economic, lifestyle, environmental, biological, and social factors that affect well-being and health. In addition, since place of residence has emerged as a major determinant of health status as well as longevity, it may be said that the zip code may be more important than the genetic code, which has implications as to where we should seek solutions to help to eliminate healthcare disparities: not in our genes but in our surroundings.


Social determinants of health Socioeconomics Ghost maps Epidemiology Environment Lifestyle factors Racial and ethnic residential segregation (RERS) Global burden of disease Food deserts Zip codes Neighborhood socioeconomic status (nSES) Area Deprivation Index Neighborhood-disadvantage metric Neighborhood Atlas 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EncinoUSA

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