Population Health Promotion – Three Determinants of Good Health

Health is a condition of mind, physical and emotional well being in which infirmity and disease are absent. A number of definitions have to be used over the years for various purposes. In medicine the concept of health is associated with that of being healthy, of being fit. According to some definitions, it is the condition of being at one with oneself. Others translate health into a state in which we are neither sick nor in pain.


To understand what it means to be health you must look closely at the determinants of our health status. Determinants refer to those influences that impinge on the individual’s ability to live a healthy life. These influences can be physical, social or psychological. These three aspects interact in complicated ways and produce subtle results. When viewed together, they are formidable obstacles to achieving and maintaining good health. Achieving or even maintaining good health depends crucially on these three determinants.

The determinants of good health are often established in earlier childhood and remain present throughout life. These influences include physical health, mental health and emotional health. It is these three determinants that are thought to be important in promoting well-being.

Mental health is influenced by a persons experiences in life. Sustained levels of well-being are influenced by how an individual to perceive his environment and how he interacts with others. For example, healthy adults who perceive their environment as safe and their interaction with others as positive are more likely to be optimistic about their overall health. These individuals are more capable of appreciating and implementing positive change and coping with challenges. This optimism about health and well-being reflects a higher level of satisfaction with daily life and contributes to better health care.

Similarly, healthy adults who are not stressed and are living a stress-free life are more likely to attain both physical and mental health. By reducing the stress load, these people are also more capable of managing physical and emotional demands and are better able to anticipate and manage future stressors. Such a person is more able to improve his physical health by reducing his exposure to negative environmental factors such as high stress and poor nutrition; and improving his mental health through engagement in activities that contribute to his well-being. This person is also less likely to develop certain types of health problems that could have been avoided through appropriate stress management.

There is no single determinant that defines healthy people. Instead, there are many different behaviors, stages of life and environments that each individual must adapt to in order to be considered healthy. Yet, there is one element common to all healthy people and that is to strive for wellness regardless of where they are at in life. Through population health promotion, healthy people can achieve better overall health.