Social determinants of health are a set of factors that form a framework for the investigation of different social groups’ conditions of living (“Social determinants of health,” 2018). For this paper, the homeless population is chosen for the investigation as the problem is highly significant: as of the end of 2014, 46.7 million people were homeless in the United States (“The Nation’s Health series,” 2018, para. 2). The analysis will be performed by ten aspects of the SDH Assessment Circle described by McMurray and Clendon (2015). A comprehensive conclusion will be provided as well.
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The SDH Assessment Circle
Biological and Genetic Characteristics
It is possible to state that the biological and genetic characteristics of the chosen population vary significantly as the issue of homelessness targets people from various social and racial backgrounds (Bonevski et al., 2014). As it is pointed out by Koh and O’Connell (2016), an age range is highly diverse for the homeless population group. Genetic factors usually manifest themselves through the development of inherent genetic problems.
Culture and Gender
The gender ratio of the chosen population is almost equal in the United States. However, as Koh and O’Connell (2016) observe, the chosen group includes people with gender identities which are largely neglected by or excluded from mainstream society: lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Cultural backgrounds are considerably diverse. However, one can point out that, in general, the homeless population is characterized by lower levels of culture.
Physical environments, which are common for the chosen group, are largely defined by living in the streets. Accordingly, it means that homeless people do not have access to appropriate housing conditions as well as a means of personal hygiene. Therefore, physical environments influence the health of the chosen population negatively.
Living in the streets also has a vast adverse impact in terms of social environments. Homeless people are usually exposed to a wide variety of social issues, which includes poverty, criminality, violence, along with alcohol and drug abuse (Baggett et al., 2015). As it was already mentioned, the population group under consideration is marginalized by society, which implies the problem of social exclusion (Koh & O’Connell, 2016).
Child Health and Development
It is possible to state with certainty that child health and development are at particular risk in the chosen population group. Since children are more dependent on appropriate conditions during their upbringing, it could be observed that every problem which is specific for the homeless population is influencing negatively the health and development of children (Koh & O’Connell, 2016).
Education and Literacy
As it was already mentioned, the level of culture within the population group under consideration is considerably low. Also, a marginalized status decreases the number of opportunities to get a proper education (Bonevski et al., 2014). Therefore, the levels of education and literacy of the homeless population group are very low on average (Koh & O’Connell, 2016).
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Employment and Financial Status
This factor is arguably one of the most important regarding the prevalence of the problem of homelessness. A sudden loss of a job or other drastic changes in the individual’s financial status is usually the initial reason for a person to become homeless. Then, since they became marginalized, homeless people cannot find a job.
Social Support Networks
Various social support networks usually manage to help homeless people on the local level. For example, Bonevski et al. (2014) mention that the implementation of community-research partnerships strategies is one of the most efficient approaches to eliminating the negative effects of homelessness. The vector of social support is of high significance since it allows homeless people to integrate into society more easily.
Health Services and Availability of Resources
The insufficient availability of resources and poor access to health services is the most recognized unmet needs of the chosen population group. For example, Noel et al. (2015) argue that issues related to visual impairments are some of the most in-demand problems in the homeless population group. It is widely recognized that there is an apparent connection between inadequate ocular health and living in the streets (Noel et al., 2015).
Health Practices and Coping Skills
Health practices and coping mechanisms of the chosen population contribute to the overall poor state of homeless people significantly. Due to the inability to access adequate health services, homeless people cannot care about their health appropriately. Additionally, the burden of various psychological problems related to the marginalized status determines the use of destructive coping mechanisms, such as alcohol or drug abuse.
In general, one should state that the problem of homelessness has a significant magnitude in contemporary society. The conducted analysis of the chosen population group by the SDH Assessment Circle has shown that the targeted population has problems in nearly every aspect of the social determinants of health framework. It is essential to employ efficient social support interventions to mitigate the negative effects of the problem of homelessness.
Baggett, T. P., Chang, Y., Singer, D. E., Porneala, B. C., Gaeta, J. M., O’Connell, J. J., & Rigotti, N. A. (2015). Tobacco-, alcohol-, and drug-attributable deaths and their contribution to mortality disparities in a cohort of homeless adults in Boston. American Journal of Public Health, 105(6), 1189-1197.
Bonevski, B., Randell, M., Paul, C., Chapman, K., Twyman, L., Bryant, J.,… Hughes, C. (2014). Reaching the hard-to-reach: A systematic review of strategies for improving health and medical research with socially disadvantaged groups. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 14(42), 1-29.
Koh, H. K., & O’Connell, J. J. (2016). Improving health care for homeless people. JAMA, 316(24), 2586-2587.
McMurray, A., & Clendon, J. (2015). Community health and wellness: Primary health care in practice (5th ed.). Sydney, Australia: Elsevier.
Noel, C. W., Fung, H., Srivastava, R., Lebovic, G., Hwang, S. W., Berger, A., & Lichter, M. (2015). Visual impairment and unmet eye care needs among homeless adults in a Canadian city. JAMA Ophthalmology, 133(4), 455-460.
Social determinants of health. (2018). Web.