From social determinants to social interdependency: Theory, reflection, and engagement

William Ventres, Shafik Dharamsi, Robert L Ferrer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Introduction: Scholars and practitioners in medicine and public health have devoted significant time and effort to defining the social determinants of health and identifying resulting inequities in health outcomes. Unfortunately, however, health care professionals can be led to believe that the origins of poor health-related outcomes are disconnected from the ways in which social, economic, political, and environmental factors are established and maintained. Discussion: We introduce the concept of social interdependency in health and illness as a way to (1) reinforce the need to identify the root causes of social determinants, and (2) accept not only personal but also shared responsibility for acting to ameliorate their effects. Developing a sound understanding of social interdependency in clinical practice, public health research, and healthcare advocacy involves an iterative process of observation, reflection, and action. Effecting positive change within these disciplines is a shared obligation. Conclusion: Developing and applying a social interdependency approach means appreciating our human interconnectedness. This approach showcases how we live in a world where none of us is so separate from another that we cannot benefit by envisioning and desiring for others what we might desire for ourselves, and can motivate us to consider work in the health professions as a force not only to attend to disease, but also to encourage health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-89
Number of pages6
JournalSocial Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017


  • Attitude of health personnel
  • Bioethics
  • Culture
  • Health inequities
  • Public health
  • Social determinants
  • Social determinants of health
  • Social responsibility
  • Vulnerable populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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