Social health inequalities - the psychosocial theory
During the past 30 years it has become clear that there are huge differences in health and life expectancies depending on your social status. This thesis deals with theories that try to explain this phenomenon, emphasizing the psychosocial theory. Studies show that the higher your social status, the better health and longer life expectancy you have. Health and life expectancy follow a social gradient through all layers of society. This is true for all countries that have past the epidemiologic transition, where further increase in income cease to have an effect on life expectancy (most western countries). Several theories are trying to explain this phenomenon. The psychosocial theory asserts how much control you have over your life and the possibilities you have for social participation are crucial for health and longevity. Despite material and economical development in western societies, people report increasingly of suffering among other things from anxiety and depression, lack of control and insecurity. These are factors leading to stressreactions in our body. Continuous stress reduces our resistance to illnesses, and stressreactions can in it self lead to diseases. According to the theory it is our sensitivity towards social relations that lead to anxiety, depression and other psychosocial riskfactors to stress. The greater the social differences in a society are, the higher the percentage of the population report of suffering from the riskfactors. The theory therefore asserts it is the interplay between the social structure and the social situation we find ourself in that effects our health.