Describe and define culture in social determinants of health? Provide a brief overview of a vulnerable population.


1. Describe and define culture in social determinants of health?

2. Provide a brief overview of a vulnerable population.

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3. Outline the relationship of SDOH in context of health and wellness of the vulnerable population. For instance, how can gender inequalities influence/impact the health and wellness of women, or children who identify as Indigenous?

4. What strategies can nurses implement, autonomously or as part of a healthcare team, to care for, advocate, or improve the health of the vulnerable population by addressing the SDOH? Give specific examples


 Addressing Social Determinants of Health for Vulnerable Populations: Strategies for Nurses


Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. Culture, as a key component of SDOH, plays a significant role in shaping health outcomes. This essay will provide a comprehensive overview of culture within the context of SDOH, discuss vulnerable populations, explore the relationship between SDOH and the health and wellness of specific vulnerable groups, and outline strategies that nurses can employ to address SDOH and improve the health of vulnerable populations.

Culture in Social Determinants of Health

Culture encompasses the beliefs, values, norms, practices, and behaviors shared by a group of individuals. It influences health behaviors, health beliefs, access to healthcare services, and interactions with healthcare providers (National Academies Press (US), 2004). Culture can determine dietary preferences, attitudes towards exercise, traditional healing practices, and healthcare-seeking behaviors. Understanding cultural factors is crucial to comprehensively address the social determinants of health for individuals and communities.

Vulnerable Populations

Vulnerable populations refer to groups that are at a higher risk of experiencing adverse health outcomes due to various factors such as socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, age, gender, disability, or geographic location. Examples of vulnerable populations include low-income individuals, racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, homeless individuals, LGBTQ+ communities, children, older adults, and individuals with disabilities. These populations often face multiple barriers that limit their access to healthcare and contribute to health disparities.

SDOH and Health of Vulnerable Populations

SDOH significantly influence the health and wellness of vulnerable populations. For example, gender inequalities can have detrimental effects on women’s health. Discrimination, unequal power dynamics, and limited access to education and economic opportunities can result in women experiencing higher rates of mental health issues, intimate partner violence, and limited reproductive health choices. Similarly, Indigenous children may face unique challenges related to historical trauma, poverty, limited access to culturally appropriate healthcare, and higher rates of chronic conditions, leading to poorer health outcomes.

Strategies for Nurses to Address SDOH and Improve Health

Cultural Competence: Nurses should strive to develop cultural competence, which involves understanding and respecting the cultural values, beliefs, and practices of vulnerable populations (Stubbe, 2020). This can be achieved through cultural sensitivity training, engaging with community leaders, and building relationships with individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Advocacy: Nurses can advocate for policy changes that address the SDOH affecting vulnerable populations. This may involve participating in public health campaigns, lobbying for improved access to healthcare services, and supporting initiatives that reduce health disparities.

Collaboration and Interdisciplinary Care: Nurses can collaborate with other healthcare professionals, social workers, community organizations, and government agencies to create comprehensive care plans that address the SDOH. This may involve conducting joint assessments, coordinating services, and developing community-based interventions.

Health Education: Nurses can provide health education tailored to the cultural and linguistic needs of vulnerable populations (National Academies Press (US), 2021). This includes promoting healthy lifestyle choices, explaining the importance of preventive care, and providing information about available resources and support services.

 Community Engagement: Nurses can actively engage with communities to understand their unique needs and strengths. By involving community members in decision-making processes, nurses can facilitate the development of culturally appropriate interventions and programs that address the SDOH.


Addressing social determinants of health is crucial for improving the health outcomes of vulnerable populations. Culture is a significant factor within the SDOH framework, influencing health behaviors and access to care. Nurses can play a vital role in caring for vulnerable populations by implementing strategies such as cultural competence, advocacy, collaboration, health education, and community engagement.

 By addressing the social determinants of health, nurses can contribute to reducing health disparities and promoting health equity among vulnerable populations.


National Academies Press (US). (2004). Culture and Society. Health Literacy – NCBI Bookshelf. 

National Academies Press (US). (2021, May 11). The Role of Nurses in Improving Health Care Access and Quality. The Future of Nursing 2020-2030 – NCBI Bookshelf. 

Stubbe, D. E. (2020). Practicing Cultural Competence and Cultural Humility in the Care of Diverse Patients. Focus, 18(1), 49–51. 

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