Social capital as a factor that contributes into population health: Analytical review

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N.A. Lebedeva-Nesevrya1,2, S.Yu. Eliseeva2


1Federal Scientific Center for Medical and Preventive Health Risk Management Technologies, 82 Monastyrskaya Str., Perm, 614045, Russian Federation
2Perm State University, 15 Bukireva Str., Perm, 614990, Russian Federation


The paper contains a review of both domestic and foreign scientific works that focus on influence exerted by social capital on population health. The authors describe different approaches to interpretations of social capital as an attribute of an individual or a social group. At an individual level, different types of social capital are shown to influence a person's health via his or her involvement into a social group; this social group minimizes adverse effects produced by stress factors (a case in which we can speak about a social capital that “unites”) and provides resources necessary to solve health-related problems (here we speak about a social capital that “brings us together”). The authors highlight that social capital and a social status which an individual or a social group has are interdependent.

At a group level, social capital is a mechanism that influences an individual's behavior as regards his or her health. A group can set certain models for health-preserving behavior and apply informal sanctions in case an individual's behavior is deviant thus reducing health risks. The authors also showed that health-related information tended to spread faster among those groups in which social capital was quite high. At a country level, social capital makes citizens to actively solve health-related problems and, consequently, determines activities performed by the state and aimed at providing citizens' safety and well-being. The authors also give special attention to a negative effect produced by group social capital, namely spread of risky behavioral practices within “poorly developed” social groups.

The paper gives two viewpoints on contributions made by individual and group social capital into formation of health. The first one states that direct contacts are more important for an individual than his or her civic stand as the latter depends on a personal psychological type. The second viewpoint is that individual social capital can be a significant health factor only when it is included into a group with high social capital. The authors think it is very important to understand how significant social capital is for determining health as such understanding will help to develop new approaches to creation of conditions that are favorable for preservation of citizens' health.

social capital, social risk factors, social determinants, social networks, health
Lebedeva-Nesevrya N.A., Eliseeva S.Yu. Social capital as a factor that contributes into population health: analytical review. Health Risk Analysis, 2018, no. 3, pp. 156–164. DOI: 10.21668/health.risk/2018.3.17.eng
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