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Social and Community Context

Social and community context includes the social settings in which people live and act. It includes social relationships and the social, religious, cultural, and occupational institutions with which they interact.1 An important aspect of an individual's social context is the sense of cohesion and interpersonal trust among community members and an individual's sense that they belong and are supported in their community. Social cohesion is strongly influenced by racial discrimination and inequality.2 Aspects of the social and community context include:3
  • Social Cohesion
  • Civic Participation
  • Discrimination
  • Incarceration

1. Barnett, E; Casper, M. A definition of "social environment." Am J Public Health. 91: 465. Downloaded from on June 19, 2017.
2. Arcaya, M.C., Arcaya, A.L. and Subramanian, S.V. (2015). Inequalities in health: definitions, concepts, and theories. Glob Health Action. 2015; 8: 10.3402/gha.v8.27106. Downloaded from on June 19, 2017.
3. HealthyPeople2020 Social Determinants of Health Overview. Downloaded from on June 20, 2017.
Social context and social capital in the living environment, both on the individual and neighbourhood level, is positively associated with self-rated health health.4 5

4. Waverijn G, Wolfe MK, Mohnen S, Rijken M, Spreeuwenberg P, Groenewegen P.(2014) A prospective analysis of the effect of neighbourhood and individual social capital on changes in self-rated health of people with chronic illness. BMC Public Health. 2014 Jul 3;14:675.
5. Mohnen SM, Völker B, Flap H, Subramanian SV, Groenewegen PP.(2013) You have to be there to enjoy it? Neighbourhood social capital and health. Eur J Public Health. 2013 Feb;23(1):33-9. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/cks039.
One's "social captial," including social support networks, civic participation and voting, and working to improve conditions in the community, is sometimes used to measure an individual's positive social context. An optional questionnaire module on the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey has been developed to measure social captial.

The information provided above is from the New Mexico Department of Health's NM-IBIS web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: "Retrieved Thu, 20 July 2017 from New Mexico Department of Health, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site:".

Content updated: Tue, 20 Jun 2017 16:55:27 MDT