Public Health: What’s Societal Support Got To Do With Your Health

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Health is more than not being sick. Health is a resource for everyday living. It’s the ability to realize hopes, satisfy needs, change or cope with life experiences, and participate fully in society. Health is influenced by important factors such as the physical environment, health practices and coping skills, biology, health care service and the social and economic environment in which people live their daily lives.

Patient’s Environment, Health Practices and Public Health

Although it may be quite easy to see how a patient’s physical environment, health practices and coping skills can affect their condition and how they handle it; the socio-economic aspect of it might not be so obvious.

The importance of social and economic support is essential for everyone to lead a healthy life; and according to a new study, for people diagnosed with a type of cancer called Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML), it can also significantly affect the odds of their survival.

Researchers who conducted this new study where able to discover from the database of more than 5000 people, all under the age of 65, that socioeconomic factors not directly related to their medical care or condition often played a significant role in the outcome of their treatment.

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Also putting their age and the progression of their disease into consideration, it appears to be that the research experts have been able to establish a pattern that reveals just how important societal support is for those suffering from one disease or the other –in this case, AML.

A lot was revealed in the study that give credence to the fact that although drugs, medications, therapy and other medically related solutions may go a long way in affecting a patients struggles with a disease; interpersonal relationships, interactions and economic supports that may or may not be closely related to the disease, can also be of an immense help as well.

Patients Environment, Health Practices and Public Health

In relation to AML patients, the study revealed that specifically, certain people were at much greater risk of dying early, including those who were single or divorced.

Also, people who were uninsured, on Medicaid or living in lower income areas were also more likely to die prematurely.

The results of this study were published online Sept. 14 in the journal Cancer.

And it certainly brings to light some sense of hope for those who suffer from AML and other chronic illnesses, as it shows that they could fight the disease effectively with both fiscal and emotional support from family, friends, and cooperate well wishers.

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Though more research is still needed to understand exactly how these factors affect health and health disparities, studies have been conducted that point to such conclusions as:

  • Social and economic factors can influence decisions and behaviors that promote or threaten health, can offer a broad array of opportunities to improve health, and can have negative or positive health effects.
  • Discrimination and racism play a crucial role in explaining health status and health disparities, through factors such as restricted employment and educational opportunities and mobility, limited access to and bias in medical care, limited access to safe recreation and healthful food, residential segregation, and chronic stress.
  • High risk personal behaviors such as cigarette smoking, alcohol use, and physical inactivity are not the major cause of health disparities, explaining less than 20% of the difference in death rates across income groups.

Based on the case study on AML patients that could invariably be generalized, medical practitioners and experts can quite easily arrive at a simpler conclusion, which is to encourage and help facilitate the bridging of any societal gaps; create policies that get patients more involved in outdoor interactive activities; and basically get people to realize the immense health benefits of societal support for those with chronic illnesses.

dr. Puan

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