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Community Health Data Base
An Information Service of the Philadelphia Health Management Corporation

Can Social Status Effect Health?
Monday. April 14, 2008

Axler, Francine
(215) 985-2521



PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia Health Management Corporation’s (PHMC) Community Health Data Base (CHDB) has released findings linking social status and individual health. The report “Social Capital and Health Among Adults in SEPA” looks at how social structures may shape a person’s health.


In recent years, health researchers have been considering the impact of social capital. Social capital is a concept that measures community connectedness and social networks, such as civic participation, trust in neighbors, and a sense of belonging. Using PHMC’s 2006 Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA) Household Health Survey, which is conducted every two years, CHDB found that in addition to characteristics such as family disease history and personal behaviors, one’s level of social capital may have an effect on health status.


CHDB data shows that in SEPA one-third of adults (33.7%) have low social capital, representing 851,400 adults. Within SEPA, Philadelphia County has the highest percentage of adults with low social capital (42.2%).  In addition, Latino adults in SEPA have the lowest social capital (52.3%) compared to other racial and minority groups and nearly one half of adults who speak a language other than English have low social capital.


According to Francine Axler, senior research associate, “Level of social capital appears to have some impact on health status.  The data shows that adults with low social capital are more likely to be in fair or poor health, lack health insurance coverage, lack a regular source of care, and experience discrimination when receiving medical care.”


CHDB provides population-based data which helps health care providers understand changes in the environment, such as shifts in population composition, changes in federal welfare entitlements, and the effects of organizational restructuring and financing of health care.  CHDB’s supporting members from across the region use the data within their hospitals and health systems, county health and human service departments, and non-profit organizations.


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The Philadelphia Health Management Corporation (PHMC) is a nonprofit public health institute that builds healthier communities through partnerships with government, foundations, business and other community-based organizations. It fulfills its mission to improve the health of the community by providing outreach, health promotion, education, research, planning, technical assistance, and direct services. PHMC has served the Greater Philadelphia region since 1972. For more information on PHMC, visit http://


The Community Health Data Base (CHDB) Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey is the largest local health survey in the country, covering Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties. Conducted every two years, the survey provides timely data on more than 13,000 children and adults in SEPA and is used by health care providers across the region to plan programs, market services, and assess needs. The Pew Charitable Trusts, The William Penn Foundation, United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and over 250 local agencies from the health, government, nonprofit, and academic sectors help to support the CHDB. For more information on CHDB, visit