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.

Webinar: A national measure of health: exploring the ONS Health Index

19 January 2021

The ONS Health Index not only measures how healthy people are today but also looks at the wider social and economic circumstances that will influence our ability to live healthy lives in the future.

Paying for the pandemic: the economic consequences of COVID-19

15 January 2021

Matt Whittaker, expert advisor for our COVID-19 impact inquiry, looks at emerging evidence of the pandemic’s effect on income inequality in the UK.

An opportunity to take a broader view on preventative health measures

8 January 2021

In this blog, Jo Bibby discusses the launch of the ONS Health Index and how it could focus minds on what is needed to protect and improve the country’s health in the long term.

Webinar: Build back fairer: Inequalities and COVID-19 in England

15 December 2020

To launch Build Back Fairer: The COVID-19 Marmot Review, the Health Foundation and the UCL Institute for Health Equity (IHE) jointly hosted a webinar on Tuesday 15 December 2020.

A new measure of the nation’s health highlights the need to look beyond GDP as the only indicator of national success

Press release
3 December 2020

Health Foundation response to the launch of the ONS Health Index for England.

Improving the nation’s health

November 2020

In light of COVID-19 and the government’s decision to abolish Public Health England (PHE), this briefing explores what needs to be put in place to make progress on the government’s commitments to impr...

Deprivation and excess deaths

27 November 2020

Our new analysis shows the size of the challenge for the government and broader public sector in reducing health inequalities in England.

Call to prioritise public health as analysis shows at least 77,000 premature deaths result from inequality each year

Press release
27 November 2020

A new report by the Health Foundation says that, in the wake of the pandemic, there is a window of opportunity to build an improved public health system to take on the major health challenges facing t...

What should nanny do next? The government and obesity

22 November 2020

Episode 2. Obesity in the UK is on the up. What should the Government's role be in tackling it?

The same pandemic, unequal impacts

5 November 2020

This infographic explores how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting some groups in the UK more than others.

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