Definition: Health inequalities

Health inequalities are “unjust and avoidable differences in people’s health across the population and between specific population groups.”94,enjoyed%20equally%20across%20the%20population 

Please watch this video explaining the social determinants of health:


Some people will refer to 'inequalities’ to explain differences between different population groups and others will use 'inequities’ to highlight unjust differences between these groups.

We have used the term inequalities throughout this e-learning as it is the most commonly used term to describe these unjust differences in Scotland.

These inequalities are avoidable and do not occur by chance. However, they are shaped by determinants that are largely outside a person’s control – such as the way harmful products are regulated in the society you live in.

Health inequalities disadvantage or limit people's ability to live long and healthy lives.

Examples of inequalities include:


Poverty and Deprivation

In the most affluent areas of Scotland, men experience 23.8 more years of good health and women experience 22.6 more years compared to the most deprived areas.



The life expectancy of people with learning disabilities is substantially shorter than the Scottish average.



Cardiovascular conditions and diabetes are more common among people of South Asian origins than among the majority white population in Scotland.



Gender-based violence is experienced unequally, with 17% of women and 7% of men having experienced the use of force from a partner or ex-partner at some point in their lives.

Watch this video on current situation on health inequalities in Scotland.