An Analysis of the Social Gradient of Health in Relation to the Australian Indigenous Population

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An Analysis of the Social Gradient of Health in Relation to the Australian Indigenous population “The demonstration of a social gradient of health predicts that reducing inequality itself has health benefits for all, not simply for the impoverished or deprived minorities within populations.” (Devitt, Hall & Tsey 2001) The above quote from Devitt, Hall and Tsey’s paper is a relatively well grounded and well researched statement which draws on contemporary theoretical sociological concepts to support the assertion that reducing inequality is the key to improving health for all. However the assertion that the demonstration of a social gradient of health predicts that a reduction in inequality will lead to health benefits for all is a…show more content…
Henry states that a central differentiator between classes is the amount of control an individual feels they have over their environment. Whereas an individual from a lower class group holds a limited sense of control over their well being and consequently adopts a fatalistic approach to health, those in higher classes with a stronger sense of control over their health are more likely to take proactive steps in ensuring their future wellbeing. This means that both individuals will cope differently with the same health problem. This is partly as a result of socioeconomic or environmental determinants relative to their situation, but it is also a result of behavioural/physical constraints and, most importantly, the modes of thought employed in rationalising their situation and actions. In essence these psychosocial pathways occupy an intermediate role between the social determinants of health and class related health behaviours. This suggests that, while the social gradient of health is a good predictor of predisposition to ill health among specific classes, it cannot predict how reducing inequality in itself will affect health outcomes or how a specific social class will respond to these changes. An examination of some initiatives aimed at reducing inequality in the indicators of health outcomes reveals this problem; “In 1996 only between 5% and 6% of NT Aboriginal

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