Social determinants of health The social (or wider) determinants of health refer to the social, cultural, political, economic, commercial and environmental factors that shape the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age


Some key social determinants of health are: our education and employment opportunities; our housing; our social networks; and where we live and the extent it facilitates exercise, a good diet and social connection. The Health Foundation’s programme of work on healthy lives complements our portfolio of work to improve health care delivery, and draws on our experience of making change happen in complex systems.

Our recent work and content on this topic is listed below.

The first comprehensive map of young people’s health inequalities in the UK

19 May 2022

Rachael McKeown writes about new AYPH work showing the scale and complexity of young people’s health inequalities, and the need for action.

Inaction on cost of living suggests government hasn’t grasped that health and wealth are intertwined

Press release
17 May 2022

Health Foundation response to the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) survey highlighting the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on health.

Context matters: what’s needed for young people’s mental health?

9 May 2022

Martina Kane reflects on varied Health Foundation work to better understand and support young people’s mental health.

How to tell a more powerful story about health

Newsletter feature
28 April 2022

We summarise six practical recommendations for how health communicators can build public understanding about what really impacts our health, taken from our latest report with the FrameWorks Institute....

Will the rising cost of living be paid for by our health? – with Dame Clare Moriarty and Bim Afolami MP

22 April 2022

Episode 19. Will the rising cost of living be paid for by our health? And what more should government do to help?

In the poorest parts of England, life expectancy for women is lower than in Colombia, Latvia and Hungary

Press release
18 April 2022

Analysis by the Health Foundation has revealed that life expectancy for women living in the poorest 10% of areas in England is lower than overall life expectancy in any OECD country, except for Mexico...

Webinar: Closing the gap – launching an independent review on health inequalities in Scotland

Friday 6 May 2022, 12.30-13.45

This event explored the aims of the Health Foundation’s independent review of health and health inequalities in Scotland over the past two decades and the key issues that will be considered. 

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Time to get tougher on the risk factors fraying our health? – with Professor Kevin Fenton and Richard Sloggett

4 April 2022

Episode 18. Is it time to get much tougher on the risk factors? And will politics allow national government to do what it takes? 

A government that truly valued the nation's health would have gone further today to protect families

Press release
23 March 2022

The Health Foundation's response to the Chancellor's Spring Statement 2022.

Tracking progress on health: keeping it simple

18 March 2022

Katherine Merrifield and Gwen Nightingale consider the newly relaunched ONS health index’s potential to track progress on health.

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