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Factors that influence health: An introduction

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What factors influence our health? A lot of attention is focused on people's behaviour - their decisions to smoke, drink, over-eat and so on - with strong messages about the changes needed to become healthier. But people's behaviour is influenced by circumstances and events, friends and family, education, job prospects, income, housing and environment. In this free course, Factors that influence health: An introduction, we look at how these factors, these wider social determinants, work together to influence our health for good or ill.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the social determinants of health
  • demonstrate an ability to identify, use and critically evaluate different types of health information.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 5 hours
  • Updated Friday 12th February 2016
  • Intermediate level
  • Posted under Health
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Factors that influence health: An introduction


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Promoting public health in the 21st century is a multidisciplinary endeavour ranging from the surveillance of health and disease in populations, through to the provision of health advice and information. It occurs at all levels, from the actions taken by individuals through to those taken by national and international agencies. It also takes place in many different settings: for example, in homes, workplaces, schools, hospitals, youth centres, nightclubs, and on the street.

There is widespread agreement on the significance of health, and improving the health of populations continues to be a major concern at local, national and international levels. National surveys in the UK and more globally have demonstrated that people are willing to spend more money on health services and that they rate good health as centrally important in living a full and satisfying life. There is now a heightened awareness of the need to promote public health.

In this course we look at how wider social determinants, work together to influence our health for good or ill.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course : K311 Promoting public health [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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