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Does lack of Social Cohesion affect the health of refugees

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Does lack of Social Cohesion affect the health of refugees

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:02 pm

Social Cohesion

The Healthy People 2020 Social Determinants of Health topic area is organized into 5 place-based domains:

    Economic Stability
    Health and Health Care
    Neighborhood and Built Environment
    Social and Community Context
Social Cohesion is a key issue in the Social and Community Context domain.

Relationships are important for physical health and psychosocial well-being. Relationships are conceptualized through terms such as social cohesion, social capital, social networks, and social support. Social cohesion refers to the strength of relationships and the sense of solidarity among members of a community.6 One indicator of social cohesion is the amount of social capital a community has. Social capital deals with shared group resources, like a friend-of-a-friend’s knowledge of a job opening Individuals have access to social capital through their social networks,8 which are webs of social relationships. Social networks are sources of multiple forms of social support, such as emotional support (e.g., encouragement after a setback) and instrumental support (e.g., a ride to a doctor’s appointment). This summary will review the positive and negative health effects social cohesion has on an individual’s life.

Social capital is an important marker of social cohesion, and it has significant ramifications for health. For example, one study examined the link between 4 measures of social capital (perceived fairness, perceived helpfulness, group membership, and trust), income inequality, and mortality. The authors found that all 4 measures of social capital were associated with mortality. They also found that the relationship between income inequality and mortality may be partially explained by reductions in social capital as income inequality increases.

Collective efficacy, an aspect of social capital and social cohesion, is grounded on mutual trust and describes a community’s ability to create change and exercise informal social control (i.e., influence behavior through social norms). Collective efficacy is associated with better self-rated health, lower rates of neighborhood violence, and better access to health-enhancing resources like medical care, healthy food options, and places to exercise. Social institutions like religion and the family are common sources of social capital and social control, as well as social networks and social support.

Social networks spread social capital, but they can also spread health behaviors and outcomes, a phenomenon known as “social contagion.” For example, if an individual’s friend, sibling, or spouse is obese, the individual’s likelihood of also becoming obese increases.20 Similar patterns are seen for smoking21 and drinking behaviors.

High levels of social support can positively influence health outcomes through behavioral and psychological pathways. For example, social support may help people stick to healthier diets and reduce emotional stress. Both of these pathways can affect biological functioning in the cardiovascular, neuroendocrine, and immune systems. Social support can therefore both directly benefit people and indirectly buffer them from risk factors that might otherwise damage health. In a study conducted on the relationship between social support and atherosclerosis (plaque in the arteries), social support contributed to lower atherosclerosis levels in women at high risk for heart disease. The protective nature of social support may be especially important for minority populations. One study of Mexican-origin adults in California found that social support acted as a barrier against the harmful health effects of discrimination.

While social ties sometimes transmit negative health behaviors or add stress, social isolation is usually detrimental to health and increases mortality. Social isolation is a special concern for older adults, as contact with friends decreases with age. Older individuals in long-term care facilities or with conditions that interfere with daily activities, like arthritis, may suffer from loneliness and a lack of social cohesion, which may negatively impact health. For example, one study conducted among older adults found an association between reduced neighborhood social cohesion and a heightened likelihood of insomnia, which can have negative health effects. Similarly, during natural disasters like heat waves, elderly individuals living in neighborhoods with low social cohesion may lack social support from concerned neighbors who will check on them, and they have fewer safe communal areas where they can seek refuge.

Given the complex nature of the association between social ties and health, social interventions designed to improve health vary significantly. These interventions can occur at multiple levels (e.g., family, group, neighborhood) and sometimes require cross-sector collaboration (e.g., education, public health, housing) to foster community building and improve health. Further research is needed to better understand how social cohesion affects health, as well as how it can be used to reduce health disparities. This evidence will facilitate public health efforts to address social cohesion as a social determinant of health. ... l-cohesion
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Does lack of Social Cohesion affect the health of refugees



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