Good Example Of Material Mechanisms Of Influence On Health Research Paper
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It has been long argued that national health is influenced by income and education, mostly because more educated people are able to better understand and use health information and generally have higher-paid positions in the job market, which allows them for more nutritional diet and more diverse leisure. Another argument is that people with higher income are generally less inclined towards bad habits, such as smoking, alcoholism, drug abuse and lack of physical activities. Economists, social care and health care workers have widely researched the correlation between an individual’s income and health condition, sampling single individuals, families, communities and larger groups of societies. Negative correlation between socioeconomic status and bad habits; lower education and occupational grade rates are named among the arguments in favor of direct connection between low income and poor health. This research paper aims to demonstrate that the level of income and socioeconomic status directly influence mortality and morbidity of the nation.
During the end of the 20th century, a multi-level approach to health inequalities emerged. Dahlgreen and Whitehead (1991) created a “rainbow” model of the factors influencing health, starting with the individual’s actions, influenced by their friends, family and community, influenced, in their turn, by social, economic, national and cultural structures and policies (Benzeval et al). Therefore, social and economic factors have been named among the determinants of health at least two decades ago, which has given it enough time to be fully researched and sampled.
Of course, money is not the only aspect influencing people’s health. People with high-income can maldistribute their money, have hereditary diseases, live in in neighborhoods with dangerous to health conditions, however, the discussion is about the correlation between low income and poor health, not poor health conditions experienced by rich people. Poverty, in other words, the lack of stable and sufficient income, can be named as one of the direct aspects influencing poor health. Naturally, people under the threshold of average income do not have enough money to opt for nutritional diet, health care system benefits, and healthy leisure alternatives and, moreover, they are more frequently abuse tobacco products, alcohol and drugs. The U.S. Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a national sample of people followed from 1972, demonstrates that “the low-income group has 3.9 times the mortality rate of the best-off” (Marmot). Another study shows that “patients assigned to hospitals with large average inpatient expenditures have lower mortality rates compared to patients assigned to less intensive hospitals” (Doyle, Graves & Gruber). The non-inpatient spending, for example, home health care, hospice and skilled nursing facilities, appears to be also more affordable for people with higher income (Doyle, Graves & Gruber). Even if the conditions experienced by people with the income rate below average are not taken into account when discussing correlation between income and health, there is a simple fact that the higher the income, the better medical facilities and health care assistance can one afford.
Finally, taking physical exercises as essential part of staying fit and preserving strong health, it becomes apparent that people with lower income can rarely afford gym equipment, quality work-out plans, and generally opt for passive leisure time. People with low income are also less likely to have or to be obtaining a higher degree, which means their research and analytic skills may not be sufficient enough when it comes to researching and extracting information about disease prevention and health condition improvement, as well as formal health care documentation access.
Psychosocial mechanisms of influence on health
Psychosocial mechanism, as the way individual’s environment makes them feel, is strongly connected to income and influences people’s health, although in rather indirect way. Living on low income may come as a very stressful experience, especially if the individual has children or parents who need support. Making a living not only for themselves, but for people who rely on them forces one to take up extra working hours, exhaust themselves at work, deprive themselves of weekends, holidays, sufficient nutrition and leisure. All this negatively influences one’s health, leads to nervous breakdowns, exhaustions, and so on.
Also, low income implies people standing low on their career ladder, which means that they exercise little control over their working conditions and are given limited autonomy at work. Continuous lack of material opportunity, inability to adjust working schedule and working conditions to acceptable standard, failure at balancing work and social life may lead to depression, which jeopardizes health by putting at risk nervous system proper functionality (Benzeval et al.). Speaking about depression, it is also apparent that people with low income may not have sufficient social and psychological resources in order to properly access health compromising behaviors and resolve the issues timely and correctly.
Putting hard work and exhaustion aside, psychosocial mechanism can also influence people’s health via comparative dimension. Continuously feeling one’s inferiority makes them distressed, and, according to biological research, can cause biochemical changes in the body which can lead to physiological system damage when experienced repeatedly (Benzeval et al.). Thus, stress has been named as the central feature which affects health (Benzeval et al.). Although it would be wrong to say that only people with low income are subjected to stressful conditions, it is true that such people have fewer resources to cope with stressors.
Behavioral mechanisms of influence on health
It has been long argued that people with low income are more likely to adopt behaviors with negative impact on health. There are multiple explanations as to this tendency, and all of them can serve as arguments for the idea of unhealthy behaviors having direct relation to income level.
First of all, psychosocial mechanisms subject people with low income to stress. Unequipped with alternative, healthier options to address stress triggers and fix the issue, people with income rate below average frequently resort to self-medication through unhealthy behaviors, such as drinking, smoking and using drugs (Benzeval et al.). Psychological distress makes one to seek for suitable ways of coping instead of looking for the ways to resolve the fundamental reason for stress. Such coping behaviors tend to be frequently abused. As, for example, binge eating is one of such coping behaviors which can lead to malfunction of digestive system and obesity. Secondly, the observations suggest that areas with income inequality have higher crime rates (Marmot). Higher crime rates are also associated with negative behavioral mechanisms, as well as can have a direct impact on higher mortality rate in the area. Consequently, people with low income can tend to engage into criminal affairs in order to make a living. Thirdly, behavior models are generally influenced by socially acceptable standards and cultural peculiarities. People with low income are more likely to live in poor neighborhoods with little to no social culture and norms and are, therefore, little controlled by it, choosing their own individual behavioral model instead.
Also, the concept of social distinction claims that people with higher income are more likely to engage into behaviors which improve their health, while people with low income take more time to come to the decision to switch to a healthier lifestyle (Benzeval et al., 2014). Thus, a gap in health outcomes between people with low and high income is created.
Reverse mechanism – influence of health on income
Benzeval et al. suggest two theories of how health can influence income. This reversal correlation is important for the research, since it shows that the association between health and income runs both ways, and the two are interrelated. Therefore, according to their study, the first theory is that poor health limits one’s ability to access employment. Health deterioration may result in payment reduction, restriction or limitation on the kind of job performed, or early retirement (Benzeval et al.). The second theory links the role of obesity, attractiveness and height to wages and overall chances to get employed (Benzeval et al.). Therefore, speaking along the lines of correlation between health and income, it is apparent that it is two-sided and interrelated.
Numerous studies suggest that higher mortality and morbidity is associated with negative indicators of socioeconomic status. Due to the different nature of mechanisms which influence health, researchers from various fields of studies have studied and sampled the correlation between health and income. The results of studies conducted by economists, responsible for material mechanism of influence; sociologists, responsible for psychosocial mechanisms; and psychologists, responsible for behavioral models origins and influence on individual’s health, prove that the connection between low income and poor health exists. Also, the reversed relation which proves that poor health may result in low income is another argument which proves that the correlation does take place.
Benzeval, Michaela et al. How Does Money Influence Health?. Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2014. Print.
Doyle, Joseph, John Graves, and Jonathan Gruber. Uncovering Waste In U.S. Healthcare. National Bureau Of Economic Research, 2015. Print.
Marmot, M. 'The Influence Of Income On Health: Views Of An Epidemiologist'. Health Affairs21.2 (2002): 31-46. Web.
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