A History of the Social Determinants of Health in Canada through the Lens of the Canadian Public Health Association, 1910-2010: Implications for Present and Future Population Health in Canada
Othersocial determinants of health
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AbstractThe 2008 final report of the WHO’s Commission on Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) marked a watershed in the history of the SDOH for bringing together decades of evidence and theory on the social causes of illness from the diverse health research landscape. Yet, a rich history predates this and other contributions (e.g., 1974 Lalonde Report) that are widely credited as the start of the SDOH approach. This history is revealed through casting the contemporary interpretive lens of the SDOH onto the past. I gained a nuanced understanding of the emergence and evolution of the SDOH in Canada by analyzing the archives of the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) from 1910 to 2010. I applied a social history and critical public health perspective while exploring this data using methods of thematic content analysis. To situate my findings with relevance to the contemporary landscape of population and public health (PPH), I complemented my analysis of archival sources with that of published and grey SDOH literature, print news articles, and oral history interviews with PPH leaders. My findings show that as a way of thinking, the SDOH approach is complex and diffuse. This, coupled with the inherently political nature of the SDOH, presents challenges in terms of communicating key messages of the SDOH to decision-makers and the public. Additionally, the history of the SDOH is non-linear and changes alongside social, economic, and political events. Economic recession and growth, for example, at times brought more and less urgency to act on the SDOH within the Canadian PPH community. However, despite that ebb and flow, the foundations of health equity and social justice have remained firm throughout the history of the SDOH. These foundations, combined with the growth and increasing disciplinary coherence of PPH, suggest that action on the SDOH will remain a core commitment of PPH.
CitationLucyk, K. (2017). A History of the Social Determinants of Health in Canada through the Lens of the Canadian Public Health Association, 1910-2010: Implications for Present and Future Population Health in Canada (Unpublished doctoral thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. doi:10.11575/PRISM/24758
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