Glossary 4

Socioeconomic Gradient–A phenomenon describing the hierarchical differences in health outcomes among a population based on the value that society places on certain characteristics, whether it be income, job, educational attainment, etc. This can be viewed as a ladder in that moving down the social ladder, more ill health and shorter life expectancy are experienced at each rung.

Feedback Loops–In systems analysis, the impact of changes in one influence or factor on other influences or factors in a positive or negative direction.

Health Disparity–a type of difference in health that is closely linked with social or economic disadvantage. Health disparities negatively affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater social or economic obstacles to health. These obstacles stem from characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion, such as race or ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, mental health, sexual orientation, or geographical location. Other characteristics include cognitive, sensory, or physical disability.

In every course I have taken, I see how poverty is a major factor in the quality of mental and physical health of individuals. Sure, there can be people who have more than enough money, and they can be abused, abuse, have cancer that runs in their families, etc.. But the rates of mental and physical illness are higher with those who live in poverty, and I would argue the rates of mental illness are much greater as well. We know that poverty is a public health crisis in Seattle and all over the world. And secondary to poverty are toxic living environments, lack of health care esp. mental health care, and a general lack of information regarding financial security, vaccines, and other public health community initiatives. I guess, my point is that in all my studying, I see that poverty needs to be addressed, so we can move on, otherwise we will continue to Band-Aid issues, and create new generations who live ill and ill-informed.  I see poverty as a primary issue, and health as secondary, and off of each of those branches tertiary issues, but I believe that poverty and health go hand in had–and they have for all of human history!



Riegelman, R., & Kirkwood, B. (2015). Public Health 101: Healthy People–Healthy Populations. Second edition. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.


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