Talking about the social determinants of health

A story might be an excellent strategy for explaining how social factors like income, social support, and gender affect our individual health. (For more on the difficulties of communicating about these determinants, see a previous post A New Way to Talk about the Social Determinants of Health; for more on the social determinants in relation to FASD prevention, see It’s not only about alcohol).

“Why is Jason in the hospital?
Because he has a bad infection in his leg.
But why does he have an infection?
Because he has a cut on his leg and it got infected.
But why does he have a cut on his leg?
Because he was playing in the junk yard next to his apartment building and there was some sharp, jagged steel there that he fell on.
But why was he playing in a junk yard?
Because his neighbourhood is kind of run down. A lot of kids play there and there is no one to supervise them.
But why does he live in that neighbourhood?
Because his parents can’t afford a nicer place to live.
But why can’t his parents afford a nicer place to live?
Because his Dad is unemployed and his Mom is sick.
But why is his Dad unemployed?
Because he doesn’t have much education and he can’t find a job.
But why …?”

Excerpted from Toward a Healthy Future: Second Report on the Health of Canadians, 1999