Social care and health inequalities

Cross-cutting theme

SCIE Research briefing 33: The contribution of social work and social care to the reduction of health inequalities: four case studies

Social care can help improve health and reduce health disadvantage. Improving access to social care interventions is therefore important to any strategy for reducing health inequality. The concept of health inequalities refers to the avoidable health disadvantage people experience as a result of adverse social factors, such as lack of economic or social capital, or marginalisation. A person’s social and economic status often develops incrementally: a young person raised without support from parental figures is more likely to develop long-term physical or mental illness, is more likely to miss out on schooling and lack educational qualifications, and is then more likely to be unemployed or in insecure, ill-paid or unfulfilling employment and substandard housing, as well as more likely to suffer ill health and early death: Inequalities in health arise because of inequalities in society – in the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age.

This briefing is cross-cutting of the Marmot policy objectives and addresses issues for four user groups:

  • early years programmes (such as Sure Start)
  • kinship care for looked-after children
  • parenting programmes for parents with learning difficulties
  • extra care housing for older people.