It’s common knowledge that social conditions matter when it comes to the health of individuals, communities, and society at large. These conditions are known to underlie health inequalities and inequities. Traditional analytical tools have helped shape how we study and understand pathways to poor health, however, many remain inadequate in providing a big picture view of where the missing links are, and where best to intervene. In other words, we understand how individual health determinants influence health outcomes, but our understanding of how these determinants work together in complex environments where there are many moving parts, interactions, and dynamic changes is less clear.
For example, what happens to chronic disease prevalence in the City of Toronto when we focus on improving social inclusion along with income? What is the effect over the next 10, 20, or 30 years? What happens to the health of disadvantaged communities and newcomers when we improve access to family doctors, and better housing?
You can find out by exploring the Wellesley Urban Health Model. We recently published a paper about the model in the Journal of Social Science & Medicine. The paper will soon be published in the journal’s special issue on complexity and health.
Anyone can explore the model and design and test simulation scenarios, using our interactive web interface. This allows you to test the various policies in the model and examine system-wide effects of interventions related to the social determinants of health.