National Women's Health Policy

Social determinants of health

Health is determined by a broad range of social, cultural, environmental and economic factors, as well as the genetic and biological factors that are usually thought of as causing good and ill health.

Page last updated: 07 February 2011

This policy seeks to understand health within its social context. Women’s health can only be understood within the broader contexts in which women live and work.

The policy is based on a gendered approach that is inclusive of a social view of health, and accounts for the diversity in women’s experiences. The social model of health acknowledges the complex ways that the context of a woman’s life—including her gender, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, sexuality, disability and geography—might shape her health outcomes; access to health care; experiences of health, wellbeing and illness; and even her death.

Addressing these social determinants is a fundamental step towards reducing health inequalities.345