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Determinants of Health, Health Equity, Health Inequity, Nursing Code of Ethics, Nursing's Social Policy, Oppression, Social Murder, Upstream Determinants of Health



  1. Fornili, Katherine Smith DNP, MPH, RN, CARN, FIAAN


Abstract: Determinants of health (DOH) are key predictors of health, wellness, morbidity, and mortality. The more familiar social DOH are not the only DOH. By themselves, the social DOH do not adequately explain how individuals and populations achieve and maintain health equity or inequity. Other DOH also exert political, economic, and institutional forces at all levels of the socioecological systems in which humans interact with their environment.


According to the American Nurses Association, the Nursing Code of Ethics is a "non-negotiable moral standard for the profession" (Fowler, 2015a, p. viii). Provision 9 of the Code of Ethics states that social justice is of primary concern for social ethics (p. 159) and that professional nurses are obligated to advocate for and integrate principles of social justice into nursing practice and health policy (p. 151).


In search of conceptual explanations for these phenomena, and to locate health equity/inequity within a wide array of upstream DOH, a comprehensive review of the interdisciplinary professional literature and conceptual analysis were conducted. A new conceptual framework that acknowledges nursing's collective responsibility for ethical action for transformative change was developed. The framework addresses both "further upstream" antioppression efforts and "farther downstream" efforts to remediate the impacts of health inequity.


The purpose of this Policy Watch column was to introduce a new "Expanded Conceptual Framework for Ethical Action by Nurses on the 'Further Upstream and Farther Downstream' Determinants of Health Equity" (Fornili, 2022).