Queen's University
GLPH 171 Social and Physical Determinants of Health and Disease

This course will use an evidence based approach to address the impact of social and environmental exposures and circumstances on health at both an individual and population level. It will focus on how the contexts of peoples’ lives affect their health, methods for describing and measuring these effects, and the role of medical practice in creating and maintaining health. Students will develop an understanding of and methods for critically evaluating scientific literature and becoming community advocates for health.

*Previously BMED 171 Social and Physical Determinants of Health and Disease.


Note: This course is not open to Arts and Science students.

HLTH 101/3.0; HLTH 102/3.0; GPHY 339/3.0

After completing GLPH 171 Social and Physical Determinants of Health and Disease, students will be able to:

  1. Identify social and physical circumstances that have an impact on health and analyze the nature of that impact.
  2. Describe the nature of socioeconomic status, gender, and early adversity, to critique them as determinants of health.
  3. Analyze how social circumstances and medical systems shape individual health.
  4. Develop how environment, genetics, intergenerational circumstances and medical care connect to an individual’s health.
  5. Critically appraise scholarly research to interpret different types of evidence on determinants of health.


As Collaborators, health professionals work effectively with other health care professionals to provide safe, high-quality, patient-centred care.


As Communicators, health professionals form relationships with patients and their families* that facilitate the gathering and sharing of essential information for effective health care.


As Advocates, health professionals contribute their expertise and influence as they work with communities or patient populations to improve health. They work with those they serve to determine and understand needs, speak on behalf of others when required, and support the mobilization of resources to effect change.


As Leaders, health professionals engage with others to contribute to a vision of a high-quality health care system and take responsibility for the delivery of excellent patient care through their activities as clinicians, administrators, scholars, or teachers.


As Scholars, health professionals demonstrate a lifelong commitment to excellence in practice through continuous learning and by teaching others, evaluating evidence, and contributing to scholarship.


As Professionals, health professionals are committed to the health and well-being of individual patients and society through ethical practice, high personal standards of behaviour, accountability to the profession and society, physician-led regulation, and maintenance of personal health.

Assessment 1 – Stop and Reflect Exercises (20%)

Throughout the online modules there will be short questions aimed at testing the learner’s comprehension. These will be multiple choice or short answer, and where applicable, the student will be notified if the questions are graded. The questions will be designed to be engaging and prompt students to think about relevant applications of the module material. The material tested will be only that within the module the student is currently working through.

Assessment 2 – Critical Literature Evaluation (30%)

Students will work in tutorial groups to write a critical appraisal of a relevant public health study. With the assistance of a TA, the students will discuss and analyze the study in the online tutorial platform, summarizing these results in a group written report. A portion of the student’s individual assignment grade will come from a peer evaluation component.

Assessment 3 – Research Poster & PSA Presentation (30%)

Students will choose a research subject from a provided list and individually create a multimedia advertisement and research poster on this subject. The multimedia PSA can be visual or audio in nature, and will be designed to increase public awareness of the chosen subject. The online research poster is meant to be a more in-depth summary of the relevant issues and data on the subject, and will be handed in after the PSA. Both assignments are to be completed individually, and are aimed at testing the student’s application of course knowledge.

Assessment 4 – Final Exam (20%)

The final exam will consist of well-designed short answer questions, aimed at problem solving and assimilating knowledge learned throughout the course, rather than rote memorization.

Required Text

GLPH 171 course notes via modules posted online.

Optional Text

Social Determinants of Health, 2nd Dennis Raphael (editor), Canadian Scholar’s Press, 2009.

Queen’s students, faculty, administrators and staff all have responsibilities for supporting and upholding the fundamental values of academic integrity. Academic integrity is constituted by the five core fundamental values of honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility (see http://www.academicintegrity.org) and by the quality of courage. These values and qualities are central to the building, nurturing and sustaining of an academic community in which all members of the community will thrive. Adherence to the values expressed through academic integrity forms a foundation for the "freedom of inquiry and exchange of ideas" essential to the intellectual life of the University.

Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with and adhering to the regulations concerning academic integrity. General information on academic integrity is available at Integrity@Queen's University, along with Faculty or School specific information. Departures from academic integrity include, but are not limited to, plagiarism, use of unauthorized materials, facilitation, forgery and falsification. Actions which contravene the regulation on academic integrity carry sanctions that can range from a warning, to loss of grades on an assignment, to failure of a course, to requirement to withdraw from the university.

Specifically, for GLPH 171 Social and Physical Determinants of Health and Disease, students must express themselves in their own words, and cite sources when they use outside information. Verbatim copying of the module text or textbook is considered plagiarism and is a breach of academic integrity. Further, lying and misrepresentation are dishonest and violate the core values of academic integrity.

All components of this course will receive numerical percentage marks. The final grade received for the course will be derived by converting the student’s numerical course average to a letter grade according to Queen’s Official Grade Conversion Scale.