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Health Inequalities and Social Determinants of Health (ICM7102)

Module lead: Dr Dianna Smith

This is a core module for the MSc global public health and policy, MSc, global health, law and governance, MSc international primary health care, and MSc health systems and global policy.

This module requires students to critically examine how global social, economic and political determinants influence health and health inequalities, both between and within countries. Students will examine the theories and evidence underpinning social inequalities in health, considering structural/material and psychosocial theories in from an individual and area-level context. The module goes on to examine how patterns in the distribution of health, as well as their determinants, are shaped by social, economic and other public policies, which in turn are shaped by a distribution of power and economic resources globally and nationally. Finally, it examines what actions are required to address the social determinants of health and to achieve reductions in health inequalities.

The module is intended to equip the student to be able to describe and critically examine the causes and the measurement of inequalities in health, and the nature and range of policy solutions available to remedy them. This module is intended to complement modules on epidemiology, the sociology of health and illness and health systems.

Key learning outcomes
• Critical understanding of theories of social determinants of health
• Ability to describe the different mechanisms for social factors to influence health outcomes
• Critically analyse papers relating to health inequalities and social determinants of health
• Review findings with respect to policy interventions and determinants of health
• Explain the importance of discrete individual characteristics such as gender on health inequalities
• Describe the range of policy interventions to address health inequalities aimed at individuals and populations

Key module texts
• Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett (2010). The Spirit Level: Why Equality Is Better for Everyone. London: Penguin Books
• CSDH (2008). Closing the gap in a generation: health equity through action on the social determinants of health. Final Report of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health. Geneva, World Health Organization.

2,000 word written assignment (50%); 2,000 word written assignment (50%)

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