National Women's Health Policy

The social determinants of health

Page last updated: 07 February 2011

The social determinants of health identified through the consultations have been used to inform the policy and these are discussed in detail at Chapter Five. There is a complex relationship between physical and social determinants of health. The policy therefore focuses on highlighting the social determinants having the greatest impact on women’s lives. The social determinants of health examined in the National Women’s Health Policy are:

1. Sex and gender—these are major determinants of health and wellbeing, and it is important that these are considered to improve women’s access to health services and information.

2. Life stages—research has demonstrated that the health needs of women differ through stages of their lifecycle. The evidence of the past 20 years has confirmed the importance of taking a life course approach, preventing the accumulation of health risk factors and giving girls and women age-appropriate health care they require.

3. Access to resources—women’s access to key resources such as income, education, employment, social connections and safety and security (including freedom from violence) affect their health outcomes and their access to health care. These factors are in turn implicated in women’s risk behaviours, although in complex and varied ways.

4. Diversity—marginalisation and discrimination, against diverse women affect their access to resources and therefore impact their health and wellbeing.