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Social determinants of health: a veil that hides socioeconomic position and its relation with health

Abstract

The emergence of theoretical models of social determinants of health has added conceptual ambiguity to the understanding of social inequalities in health, as it is often not possible to clearly distinguish between socioeconomic position and these determinants. Whether the existence of social inequalities in health is based on differences in health or on differences in social determinants of health that are systematically associated with socioeconomic position, policymakers should be clearly informed of the importance of socioeconomic position for health. Thus, the following three basic requirements are proposed: to reach a consensus about the dimensions that reflect socioeconomic position; to agree about what are to be considered the social determinants of health and whether or not these determinants are a construct that can be distinguished from socioeconomic position; and finally, to establish which dimensions and measures of socioeconomic position are most appropriate for the evaluation of interventions that aim to reduce these inequalities.

  • socioeconomic position
  • inequalities

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