Managing Diabetes: Understanding Social Determinants Affecting Optimal Health
Living with diabetes is a daily challenge for many people. Managing the disease requires ongoing testing, nutrition education and in-depth understanding of the social determinants that contribute to long-term success. These elements of care are essential for those individuals with diabetes, to ensure their long-term health and wellness is maintained.
The Role of Social Determinants in Health
Social determinants are the external factors that influence the access to health care, level of education and economic opportunities available to a person. Among those whose health is impacted by social determinants, individuals living with chronic illness, such as diabetes, stand out in terms of vulnerability. These social determinants have an effect health outcomes.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has described social determinants as the “conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age”. Overcoming the struggle of diabetes requires many resources than just medical interventions. In order to effectively manage diabetes, individuals require access to diverse resources including educational materials, physical activities, and healthier diet options.
Addressing Social Determinants for Optimal Health
Social determinants often contribute to an increased or decreased likelihood of developing a particular illness, including diabetes. Complications from diabetes are positively associated with poverty, health disparities, and inadequate access to primary care.
When addressing the social determinants, the aim is to create equitable health outcomes. Some actions that can be taken for reducing the social determinants for diabetes are:
- Improving Access to Healthcare: Increase access to medical centers and pharmacies, provide medical care and subsidies to low-income individuals as needed.
- Mental Health Resources: Provide mental health support services to assist individuals with diabetes in managing their condition both physically and emotionally.
- Health Education: Implement programs and initiatives to educate and promote healthier lifestyle choices, as well as to provide additional education materials for diabetes self-management.
Managing diabetes requires understanding of the social determinants that can impact overall health. It is important to take into account the individual’s access to healthcare, nutrition, opportunities, and the physical, mental and social resources available. By mitigating and addressing social determinants, individuals can meet optimal health outcomes.