The Implications of Social Issues in Health and Social Care


Socioeconomic factors such as the level of poverty, status of employment, source of income, and geographical location have important implications on human health and the associated care. This is better explained by the socioeconomic status of individuals or groups of people. Those who enjoy a higher socioeconomic status are in most cases not exposed to various health and life threatening conditions (Cai et al., 2017; Anees et al., 2018). They do have enough resources with which they can combat the threats. In contrast, persons with low socioeconomic status tend to experience social exclusion since they lack the resources (Acharya, 2018). Marginalization denies them opportunities for improved health. There is need to address issues of marginalization and health inequalities that exist in the society in order to promote the health and social inclusion of these people (Hall et al., 2019). This can enable them to participate fully in the social, economic, and political life of their societies. The current essay explores health and social care implications of various social issues. It also examines how advocacy and empowerment can help to address such issues.

Ways in Which Socio-Economic Factors Influence Health and Well-Being

There are several socio-economic factors that influence individuals’ health and general wellbeing. These include poverty, employment, income, education, geographical location, marginalization, and life expectancy (Cai et al., 2017; Ruiz-Pérez et al., 2017; Anees et al., 2018). Such factors affect people’s access to both social and health care services, and ability to embrace important health choices.  The socioeconomic factors also help to determine the kind of health inequalities that exist in the society.

Poverty has a significant effect on individuals’ health outcomes. It is a major barrier to accessing quality care (Anees et al., 2018). Poor people cannot raise the money required for both medical and social care. As a result, many suffer from poor health outcomes. The poor are also unable to purchase the things that are necessary for maintenance of good health. For instance, they cannot afford healthy food, and good housing. The poor people as well lack important health information that can enable them to make important health choices. This is due to the fact that the majority cannot afford radios, televisions, newspapers, and other sources through which the information is disseminated.

The type of employment that individuals are engaged in is important for their health (Cai et al., 2017; Anees et al., 2018). For instance, laborers, sports coaches and people who do physically active jobs have the opportunity for regular exercise. As a result, they are able to maintain their body fitness.  Those who occupy executive positions lack time for physical activity since they sit and work for long hours. Such persons are vulnerable to stress and other poor health outcomes. Individuals who work in industries and mines are susceptible to infections as a result of exposure to dangerous chemicals and poisonous gases. On their part, those who serve in the transport sector are vulnerable to accidents.

Income refers to the amount of money that one earns. This depends on the person’s employment or work. The more an individual earns the better his or her health is likely to be (Cai et al., 2017; Ruiz-Pérez et al., 2017). Those with high income levels can afford quality social and medical care, nutritious food, good education, and proper housing. These choices are all important for the achievement of improved health outcomes. On the contrary, low income levels limit such choices. Those who earn less cannot be able to make savings and accumulate assets that can enable them to access care services, and survive during the period of economic hardship.

Education is key in life. It not only influences the choice of employment, but also the health of individuals (Ruiz-Pérez et al., 2017). The type of employment that one gets into is determined by his or her level of education. People with better education are more likely to get good jobs with better salaries. Those without education cannot get such jobs. It also needs to be pointed out that educated person are knowledgeable about the importance of exercise and healthy diet in enhancement of human health.  In contrast, most of those who are not educated lack knowledge about these healthy choices in life.

There is a close relationship between life expectancy and one’s wellbeing. Investing in the wellbeing is key to improvement of the quality and longevity of life. Life expectancy is influenced by individuals’ socioeconomic status, the quality and accessibility of the healthcare system, the type of health behaviors embraced, genetic factors, environmental factors, and social factors (Ruiz-Pérez et al., 2017; Anees et al., 2018).  For instance, people with good education and high income tend to live longer than the uneducated who lack a source of income.  In another example, those who smoke tobacco and take alcohol in excess are less likely to live for long compared the persons who neither smoke nor take alcohol.

Another important factor that affects human health is geographical location. The geographical location in this case is defined by an individual’s natural, built, and social environment (Anees et al., 2018). People who live in crowded neighborhoods and industrialized areas are at risk for respiratory diseases, stress, and other types of health problems. This is due to the fact that they are exposed to both air and noise pollution. Individuals who dwell in crime prone places and areas that are not safe are vulnerable to physical harm. It is also important to note that some diseases are more prevalent in certain geographical areas than in others. For example, people in the tropical regions are vulnerable to malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever, and other tropical diseases.

Marginalization as well influences people’s health. Marginalized groups such as the racial and ethnic minorities, the disabled, the elderly, veterans, refugees, commercial sex workers, the extremely poor, those who are mentally challenged, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) often experience poor health outcomes as a result of economic and social disadvantaging (Cai et al., 2017; Anees et al., 2018). Due to poverty and discrimination, many do not afford health care insurance. As a result, they end up not benefiting from important health and social care services necessary for the improvement of their health. This explains why high rates of morbidity, mortality, and disability are reported among the communities where the marginalized people live.

Experiences of Specific Marginalized Social Groups and Practices that May Promote Their Social Inclusion

Different marginalized social groups face social exclusion due to their low socio-economic status. As a result, they tend to experience poor health outcomes. To begin with, there is a close relationship between social exclusion and poverty. Most marginalized groups are poor since they are excluded from various aspects of societal life (Acharya et al., 2018). People in such groups are unable to pay for quality healthcare services. This is due to the fact that they do not have financial resources. The poor also cannot afford recreational activities such as swimming and playing golf. Such activities are important for maintenance of physical fitness.  It is also important to note that most of the poor persons are not well educated. Due to this, they are less likely to read and understand vital health information. That is why high incidences of disease are reported among them. To promote the social inclusion of the poor in the healthcare sector, it is important to put in place social protection programs (Mfoafo-M’Carthy & Sossou, 2017). Examples include cash transfers, feeding programs, food price subsidies, and social health insurance. Such programs can help poor households to access economic opportunities that can enable them to move out of poverty.

Like poverty, social class also has important effects on the health outcomes of people in the society.  Social class is defined by one’s education, wealth, and occupation (Acharya et al., 2018). People in the higher social class are wealthy, highly educated, and have prestigious jobs. In contrast, those in the lower class are poor, uneducated and unemployed. Due to their socioeconomic status, lower class people experience health inequalities since they cannot access the best healthcare and social care services available. This is unlike their counterparts in the higher social class who are able to raise money that they can pay to receive these services. The social inclusion of the people in the lower social class can be enhanced through strengthening equity measures (Hall et al., 2019). For instance, it is important to ensure that all people have equal opportunities to both social and health care services, education, and employment.

As individuals grow older, their probability of getting socially excluded is higher than that of not becoming excluded (Mfoafo-M’Carthy & Sossou, 2017; Hall et al., 2019). Yet these people are in need of adequate care and protection in order for them to achieve their full potential for social, mental, and physical wellbeing. In most cases, the elderly suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and certain types of cancer. The management of these diseases requires special care. Unfortunately, majority of the elderly people are not insured. Therefore, they find it difficult to access various care services of high quality for their health problems. Social protection programs can play an important role in promoting the social inclusion of the elderly people in the healthcare system (Hall et al., 2019). For instance, cash transfer programs can enable them to have money for healthcare services, food, and other basic needs.

Just like ageing, disability is a serious issue in many societies. People with disabilities are often discriminated against in job positions (Mfoafo-M’Carthy & Sossou, 2017). To some extent, this is due to the fact that some are unable to work as a result of their disabilities. For those who are able to work, they are given lowly paying jobs. This leaves them with the option of depending on their family members and relatives. In most cases, persons living with disabilities experience discrimination and stigma in their access to health and social care (Acharya et al., 2018). Many of them end up receiving services of poor quality since they are not able to make payments. To ensure the social inclusion of the disabled in the healthcare sector, there is need to embrace anti-discriminatory legislations (Mfoafo-M’Carthy & Sossou, 2017). An example is the Equality Act of 2010 that focuses on the importance of eliminating discrimination, and advancing equality of opportunities. Such legislations can help to ensure that they freely access important services. Social protection programs such as cash transfers can also be of great help (Hall et al., 2019). They can enable them to get economically empowered.

Getting diagnosed with a mental illness tends to have a significant impact on every aspect of an individual’s life. Mentally ill persons are often discriminated against, stigmatized and excluded from their families and communities (Ruiz-Pérez et al., 2017). This makes it difficult for them to make meaningful contributions to their societies. Although low and middle income nations are the ones that are most affected by mental disorders, they have done little in terms of developing health infrastructure for the care of the mentally ill. The few mental health care facilities available in these countries are overcrowded and underfunded (Mfoafo-M’Carthy & Sossou, 2017). This means that the people suffering from mental health conditions are unable to get quality care services. The best way through which the mentally ill people can be socially included in the healthcare as well as social care is by establishment of inclusive institutions (Mfoafo-M’Carthy & Sossou, 2017). For instance, it is important to construct more mental health facilities to cater for the health needs of these people. It is also important to support community and family structures that promote unity and acceptance of such people (Hall et al., 2019).

In most countries, ethnic and racial minorities bear the greatest pattern of disease as a result of inherited health vulnerabilities, differences in cultural and lifestyle patterns, differences in socioeconomic status, and negative attitudes of healthcare providers (Acharya et al., 2018; Hall et al., 2019).  These factors subject these groups to race-based discrimination. This kind of discrimination tends to be harmful to their health outcomes. It also needs to be pointed out that most racial or ethnic minorities live in regions that are underserved by healthcare facilities, and health and social care providers. This makes it difficult for them to access quality services that can help to improve their health and wellbeing. Promotion of human rights advocacy can help to ensure the inclusion of ethnic or racial minorities in the healthcare sector (Hall et al., 2019). This advocacy can help to ensure that these groups freely enjoy their basic human rights, including the right to good health.

Gender differences also have significant implications on the health of individuals. Unlike men, women in most societies are denied the opportunity to get quality education. Under such circumstances, they are less likely to get good jobs. This confines them to caring and other domestic roles for which they are not paid (Acharya et al., 2018). Such situations impoverish them and force them to economically depend on men for their survival. This dependence tends to have a negative effect on their health outcomes.  For instance, although women suffer from serious diseases such as cervical cancer, many lack financial resources required for them to get special social care as well as health care services. Embracing affirmative actions can help to ensure the inclusivity of women in the health care system (Mfoafo-M’Carthy & Sossou, 2017).  For instance, increasing the number of women in the workforce is one way of empowering them economically. It is as well important to ensure that their voice is heard (Mfoafo-M’Carthy & Sossou, 2017). This can enable them to have a say in making important care decisions.

Situations in which Individuals are Discriminated against or Left Powerless and How Ideas of Social Justice and Anti-Oppressive Practice Might Work for Their Benefit

Discrimination is a common issue in the healthcare systems of most countries. Some social groups are discriminated against in the delivery of healthcare services for who they are. This situation leaves them powerless. For instance, discrimination along racial lines results in serious physical and mental health consequences, and it hinders people from accessing basic healthcare services (Cai et al., 2017).  People who feel discriminated against due to their racial origin are likely to get stressed and depressed. This is harmful to their mental health. Such people are also less likely to seek treatment for their physical health problem. This may also have serious consequences to their health in general. Racial discrimination can be addressed through social justice mechanisms that emphasize on equal treatment of all racial groups (Acharya, 2018). This can help to encourage the racially discriminated groups to feel that they are part of the larger society.  With this feeling, they can freely seek to benefit from various health and social care services that can help to improve their wellbeing in the society.

Another situation of discrimination in the healthcare sector is the one that affects the LGBT group. People in this group are often castigated for their unique sexual orientations (Acharya, 2018). Many see them as inhuman people who act against societal norms. In the healthcare system, most healthcare providers and social workers tend to be reluctant when they realize that they are attending to LGBT clients. Such clients are often handled with stigmatization. As a result, many of them end up being given services of poor quality. Such services may not help to address their health problems. Since every human being is entitled to quality healthcare services, there is need to ensure that the LGBT individuals benefit from such services. Just like in the case of racial discrimination, discrimination based on sexual orientation can be addressed through social justice (Acharya, 2018). It is important for the healthcare providers to be sensitized on the importance of ensuring that every patient is treated fairly regardless of his or her race or any other social basis of discrimination.

As noted in the previous section, another discriminative situation in the healthcare system is gender based discrimination. Men and women do not have equal opportunities in terms of accessing various services of care (Anees et al., 2018). Women in most societies languish in poverty due to oppressive policies that deny them opportunities of better education and employment. This explains why most women do not have stable sources of income. This situation has significant implications not only to their health, but also their wellbeing. Lack of income means inadequate financial resources. Thus, women do not have enough financial resources that they can use in making appropriate health choices. To overcome such a situation, it is necessary to address the anti-oppressive practices in the society that discriminate against women (Hall et al., 2019). For instance, women need to be given equal opportunities in the employment sector just like men. This can enable them to have stable income sources. With this income, they can afford to receive care services of high quality required for their health outcomes.

Application of Relevant Sociological Theories

There are four important sociological theories that can be used to explain health inequalities that exist in any society. The first theory is Marxism. The proponents of this theory believe that ill health is caused by the society’s material bases, and that people in the lower social class system are at a higher risk for illnesses, disabilities, and mortality than those who are affluent (Øversveen et al., 2017). The Marxist perspective helps to explain why the poor, unemployed, and uneducated people experience poor health outcomes. It is mainly due to their low socioeconomic status. For example, the poor may not have adequate financial resources for special and quality healthcare. This is unlike in the case of the rich persons.

The second theory is functionalism. Functionalist theorists hold that social inequality is something that is inevitable, and that it plays a crucial role in the functioning of the society (Øversveen et al., 2017; Scambler, 2019). The inequality hinders and prevents any form of social progress in the society. This is due to the fact that people who are in power tend to repress those who are powerless in order to continue maintaining the status quo. For instance, those in positions of power do nothing to improve the health care system. This interferes with the stability and functioning of the society as a result of having many people suffering from ill health.

The third theory that can be applied on health inequality is that of feminism. Feminists believe that disparities between women and men have been normalized in most societies. Such gender differences deny women the change to access vital services available in the society (Øversveen et al., 2017; Scambler, 2019). For instance, most women are unable to access basic healthcare services due to unemployment, lack of income, and poverty. The objective of the feminist model is not only to change the way healthcare is provided to women, but also to promote social transformation in the society.

The fourth and last theory is interactionism. According to this theory both illness and health are aspects that are socially constructed (Scambler, 2019). People have the ability to create meanings out of their social interactions with others. Due to this, they tend to act in accordance to how they are able to define such situations. According to the theorists of interactionism, both physical and mental health problems lack objective reality since they are considered to be ill or healthy conditions only if the society defines them so. For example, conditions such as hyperactivity, fatigue, and insomnia may not be regarded in some settings. As a result, they may not get the medical attention they deserve.


Groups that are socially marginalized get affected by health inequalities existing in their societies. They get socially excluded from quality health and social care services as a result of their socioeconomic status. This makes it necessary to put in place important measures that can help to promote the health of these people. Such people need to be empowered in order for them to feel socially included in their societies. It is also important to advocate for their basic human rights.


Acharya, S. S. (2018). Health Equity in India: An Examination through the Lens of Social Exclusion. Journal of Social Inclusion Studies, 4 (1): 104-130.

Anees, M., Batool, S., Marium, I., & Ibrahim, M. (2018). Socio-economic factors affecting quality of life of Hemodialysis patients and its effects on mortality. Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences, 34 (4). doi: 10.12669/pjms.344.15284

Cai, J., Coyte, P.C. & Zhao, H. (2017). Determinants of and socio-economic disparities in self-rated health in China. Int J Equity Health 16 (7).

Hall, T., Kakuma, R., Palmer, L., Minas, H., Martins, J., & Kermode, M. (2019). Social inclusion and exclusion of people with mental illness in Timor-Leste: a qualitative investigation with multiple stakeholders. BMC Public Health 19: (702).

Mfoafo-M’Carthy, M., & Sossou, M. A. (2017). Stigma, Discrimination, and Social Exclusion of the Mentally Ill: the Case of Ghana. J. Hum. Rights Soc. Work 2: 128–133.

Øversveen, E., Rydland, H. T., Bambra, C., & Eikemo, T. A. (2017). Rethinking the relationship between socio-economic status and health: Making the case for sociological theory in health inequality research. Scandavian Journal of Public Health, 45 (2): 103-112.

Ruiz-Pérez, I., Bermúdez-Tamayo, C., & Rodríguez-Barranco, M. (2017). Socio-economic factors linked with mental health during the recession: a multilevel analysis. Int J Equity Health 16 (45).

Scambler, G. (2019). Dimensions of vulnerability salient for health: a sociological approach. Society. Health & Vulnerability, 10 (1).

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