Social Ecological Models

Social Ecological Models are not one model per se, they are models that are multi-level.   They idea is that a person is influenced by their environment from their family to the community, to the society as a whole.  McLeroy, Bibeau, Stecklter & Glanz (1988) developed the model for use in health education programs.  The model starts with the individual and the knowledge they have within.  The next is interpersonal which includes family and friends and now in this day and age friends in person and on the Internet.  Organizational which are the organizations that the individual works with and the community which is the network of organizations.  Finally, public policy which are the laws that everyone abides by.  This is what the model looks like:

Social Ecological Model

In public health we have to look at all of these levels when developing health education programs.  There are things that affect health education beyond just the person.  The social ecological model takes all of these things into account.  All kinds of things influence the behavior of a person to the programs and laws that are in effect to the community the person is a part of.  Culture is a big part of this model and I think it would work when creating health education programs for diverse populations.  For example take a migrant worker living in the United States.  When creating a health education program for migrant workers, we have to take into account all of the different spheres that affect them.  For themselves, it may be they are more worried about bringing money home to their family than their health.  They have influences from the family and friends (this is where culture comes in).  They have influences from the migrant worker community and the greater community in which they live.  Finally they have influences from the laws governing immigration.

As a public health educator, culture could be measured at any one of the spheres.  It may be more prominent within the family group and the community.  On top of this understanding how our American culture shapes a person’s experience is also important.  Using the example of the migrant worker, it would be difficult to implement a health education program if one of the biggest worries they have is being deported.  Any culture would have barriers that need to be overcome to promote health education programs.  This model provides a good framework in which to being to measure culture and their influences.

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