Ecosocial theory provides health professionals with an opportunity to understand why populations react
biologically to a social condition. It is these interactions between biology and social conditions that can
contribute to an inequitable distribution of ill health and disease, also known as health disparities.
Following the tenets of ecosocial theory, health professionals have developed a framework, called the
SocioEcological Model (SEM), to which health issues can be applied that is beneficial in devising new
approaches for promoting positive health outcomes and understanding the contributing factors of health
The SEM is an organizing framework that health professionals can use to understand health issues and in
planning effective interventions. It uses the concept of multilevel systems of mutual influence and
interaction, moving from the individual level through linkages to larger social networks that include the
family, community, environment, social institutions, and government.
This model is organized around five levels of influence:
1) individual factors,
2) interpersonal processes and relations with primary social groups,
3) institutional/organizational factors,
4) community/environment factors, and
5) public policy.
1. Select a health issue where health disparities are present (ex: Cancer, Heart Disease, Hypertension,
Diabetes, Asthma, Depression, Obesity, HIV/AIDS, etc.)
2. Select a population that is impacted by this.
3. Conduct research using scholarly sources to complete the SEM model following the outline listed
4. Each section of the SEM must be addressed based on the selected population and health issue.
Part One: Apply each section of the SEM model to the health issue and population selected. Using
scholarly sources to support your work, explain how each of these factors contribute to health disparities
as demonstrated in your selected topic. 1) Individual factors 2) Interpersonal processes and relations with
primary social groups 3) Institutional/organizational factors 4) Community/environment factors 5) Public
Part Two: Select the level of the SEM model that you believe is most important as a starting point to
addressing this issue. Use scholarly sources to suggest an intervention that would work best to improve
the health issue at the selected level.
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