Determinants of Health

7. Personal Environments

There is a growing recognition that personal life “choices” are greatly influenced by the socioeconomic environments in which people live, learn, work and play.1

The Public Health Agency of Canada describes this category as Personal Health Practices and Coping Skills. Another word people use is lifestyle. It takes into account individual choices when making decisions about health, as well as the affects of society, economics and the environment.

Where we work, play, worship, live and learn can shape what we choose to do. In what areas do these personal environments affect lifestyle?

They help to develop:

  • life skills
  • sense of control
  • ways to cope with stress
  • ethno-cultural background
  • religious beliefs
  • social relationships and belonging

Supportive environments increase individuals’ ability to make healthier decisions. These environments encourage people to improve self-care, to cope with challenges, improve self-reliance and develop new skills to solve problems.

There are resources and people who understand you and HIV. They can help!2

People who feel effective and strong in the face of what life brings are likely to be most successful in adopting and sustaining healthy behaviours and lifestyles. This is sometimes called resilience.

Service providers are often in ideal personal environments to support the resilience of women who are both living with and at risk of HIV infection.


More from Shared Health Exchange

1What Makes Canadians Healthy or Unhealthy? Underlying Premises and Evidence Table, Public Health Agency of Canada, online as of June 2011
2Quote from a participant at the ACT women’s retreat, March 2011