Canadian Scholars’ Press
Engaging ideas, transforming minds
Engaging ideas, transforming minds
2008 social determinants of health cvr
496 pages
6.75 x 9.75 inches
November 2008
Print ISBN: 9781551303505
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Genetics and traditional risk factors such as activity, diet, and tobacco use cannot reliably predict whether we stay healthy or become ill. What then are the primary predictors of adult-onset diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, and many other diseases? The social determinants of health provide the answer: these are the socio-economic conditions that shape the health of individuals, communities, and jurisdictions as a whole. Social determinants establish the extent to which Canadians possess the resources to identify and achieve personal aspirations, satisfy needs, and cope with the environment. This perspective is the key to understanding patterns of health and illness in Canada today.

Uniting top academics and high profile experts from across the country, this contributed volume is a unique undertaking that combines analysis of the current state of the social determinants of health, with explication of their effects. The contributions take a public policy approach that sees the mainsprings of health emerging from the social distribution of resources. The collection as a whole integrates insights from the health sciences, the sociology of health, and the political economy of health.

Critical areas of investigation:

  • Aboriginal status
  • early life, education, and literacy
  • work and unemployment
  • food security
  • gender
  • health care services
  • housing
  • income and its distribution
  • social safety net
  • social exclusion

Related Titles

Table of Contents

Foreword to the Second Edition, The Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Foreword to the First Edition, The Honourable Roy J. Romanow
A Note from the Publisher

Part One: Introducing the Social Determinants of Health
Chapter 1: Social Determinants of Health: An Overview of Key Issues and Themes - Dennis Raphael
Chapter 2: Social Structure, Living Conditions, and Health - Dennis Raphael

Part Two: Income Security and Employment in Canada
Chapter 3: When Economic Growth Doesn't Trickle Down: The Wage Dimensions of Income Polarization - Ann Curry-Stevens
Chapter 4: Income, Income Distribution, and Health in Canada - Nathalie Auger and Carolyne Alix
Chapter 5: Precarious Work and the Labour Market - Diane-Gabrielle Tremblay
Chapter 6: Labour Market Flexibility and Worker Insecurity - Emile Tompa, Michael Polanyi, and Janice Foley
Chapter 7: The Unhealthy Canadian Workplace - Andrew Jackson
Chapter 8: Understanding and Improving the Health of Work - Peter Smith and Michael Polanyi

Part Three: Foundations of Lifelong Health: Education
Chapter 9: Early Childhood Education and Care as a Social Determinant of Health - Martha Friendly
Chapter 10: Early Childhood Education and Health - Brenda L. Smith-Chant
Chapter 11: The State and Quality of Canadian Public Elementary and Secondary Education - Charles Ungerleider, Tracey Burns, and Fernando Cartwright
Chapter 12: Literacy and Health Literacy: New Understandings about Their Impact on Health - Barbara Ronson and Irving Rootman

Part Four: Foundations of Lifelong Health: Food and Shelter
Chapter 13: Food Insecurity - Lynn McIntyre and Krista Rondeau
Chapter 14: Health Implications of Food Insecurity - Valerie Tarasuk
Chapter 15: Housing - Michael Shapcott
Chapter 16: Housing and Health: More Than Bricks and Mortar - Toba Bryant

Part Five: Social Exclusion
Chapter 17: Social Exclusion - Grace-Edward Galabuzi
Chapter 18: Social Inclusion/Exclusion and Health: Dancing the Dialectic - Ronald Labonte
Chapter 19: The Health of Aboriginal Peoples - Janet Smylie

Part Six: Public Policy
Chapter 20: Follow the Money: How Business and Politics Define Our Health - David Langille
Chapter 21: Health and Health Care: A Human Rights Perspective - Elizabeth McGibbon
Chapter 22: Public Policy and the Welfare State - Lars K. Hallstrom
Chapter 23: Public Policy, Gender, and Health - Pat Armstrong
Chapter 24: Surmounting the Barriers: Making Action on the Social Determinants of Health a Public Policy Priority - Dennis Raphael and Ann Curry-Stevens

Appendix: Strengthening the Social Determinants of Health: The Toronto Charter for a Healthy Canada

Contributors' Biographies
Copyright Acknowledgements

Dennis Raphael

Dennis Raphael, PhD, is a Professor of Health Policy and Management at York University. The most recent of his over 250 scientific publications have focused on the health effects of income inequality and poverty, the quality of life of communities and individuals, and the impact of government decisions on Canadians’ health and well-being. Dr. Raphael is editor of Tackling Health Inequalities: Lessons from International Experiences and Health Promotion and Quality of Life in Canada; co-editor of Staying Alive: Critical Perspectives on Health, Illness, and Health Care; and author of Poverty in Canada: Implications for Health and Quality of Life.

Health Promotion and Quality of Life in Canada, Poverty in Canada, 2nd Edition, Social Determinants of Health, 2nd Edition, Staying Alive, 2nd Edition, Tackling Health Inequalities, Social Determinants of Health, 3rd Edition


"Social Determinants of Health provides a rich companion to our work on health care and a useful springboard for integrated healthy public policy."

"Dennis Raphael has articulated a vision. This book updates the progress to date in the scholarship and evidence of the interventions that can improve the overall health of the population and reduce health disparities, which will allow tens of thousands, and maybe even millions, of Canadians to lead longer lives in better health."

"Dennis Raphael has articulated a vision. This book updates the progress to date in the scholarship and evidence of the interventions that can improve the overall health of the population and reduce health disparities, which will allow tens of thousands, and maybe even millions, of Canadians to lead longer lives in better health."
—  The Hon. Carolyn Bennett

Instructor Resources

Adopt the second edition of Dennis Raphael’s prominent text, Social Determinants of Health, and you will benefit from a wealth of supplementary materials to support and guide classroom use of this key text. Our Instructor’s Manual features:

  • Creative exercises and activities for each and every chapter

  • Chapter-by-chapter assignment suggestions

  • A comprehensive list of suggested readings

  • A list of suggested multimedia resources, including relevant websites and film suggestions

See sample

Student Resources

Social Determinants of Health, 2nd Edition Student Resource - Download

General Student Resource - Download