A Comprehensive Review of the Interplay of Social and Biological Environments


  • Meghana Mishra


Social Determinants, Biological Underpinnings, Epigenetics, Mental Health Interventions, Environmental Regulations, Cultural Influences, Health Equity


The complicated interaction between the social and biological environments and their major influence on human development, health, and behaviour is examined in this review article. Social variables, such as socioeconomic position and access to healthcare, have a significant impact on health outcomes and inequities. Meanwhile, social experiences alter biological mechanisms such as brain circuits and epigenetics, which contribute to social behaviour. Individuals' stress responses and health behaviours are further shaped by social support and cultural influences. Furthermore, environmental influences have an effect on both social connections and biological health. Understanding these relationships is critical for developing successful well-being therapies and policies. This review emphasises the need of a comprehensive strategy to addressing health inequities and fostering a healthy society by emphasising the interdependence of social and biological factors.

This review also explores potential solutions and policy implications for dealing with the combination of social and biological contexts. It highlights the significance of adopting a social determinants viewpoint into healthcare practises and policies in order to improve individual and community well-being. The importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and the incorporation of sophisticated technology in research is also emphasised in order to acquire a thorough knowledge of these complex connections. Finally, the purpose of this study is to stimulate additional research in the subject and to encourage a more inclusive and holistic approach to tackling health and socioeconomic inequities.


Anderson, N. B. (Ed.). (2018). Encyclopedia of health and behavior (2nd ed.). Sage Publications.

Chen, F. S., & DeWall, C. N. (2017). Social threats: From the social environment to the brain. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 26(2), 123-128.

Cockerham, W. C. (2019). Social determinants of health (3rd ed.). Routledge.

Dong, M., Giles, W. H., Felitti, V. J., Dube, S. R., Williams, J. E., Chapman, D. P., & Anda, R. F. (2004). Insights into causal pathways for ischemic heart disease: Adverse childhood experiences study. Circulation, 110(13), 1761-1766.

McEwen, B. S., & Gianaros, P. J. (2010). Central role of the brain in stress and adaptation: Links to socioeconomic status, health, and disease. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1186(1), 190-222.

Meaney, M. J. (2010). Epigenetics and the biological definition of gene x environment interactions. Child Development, 81(1), 41-79.

Pinto Pereira, S. M., Li, L., Power, C. (2014). Early-life predictors of leisure-time physical inactivity in midadulthood: findings from a prospective British birth cohort. American Journal of Epidemiology, 180(11), 1098-1108.

Reblin, M., & Uchino, B. N. (2008). Social and emotional support and its implication for health. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 21(2), 201-205.

Seeman, T. E. (1996). Social ties and health: The benefits of social integration. Annals of Epidemiology, 6(5), 442-451.

Turecki, G., & Meaney, M. J. (2016). Effects of the social environment and stress on glucocorticoid receptor gene methylation: A systematic review. Biological Psychiatry, 79(2), 87-96.

WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health. (2008). Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health. World Health Organization.

Adler, N. E., & Stewart, J. (2010). The biology of disadvantage: Socioeconomic status and health. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1186(1), 223-251.

Cutler, D. M., & Lleras-Muney, A. (2010). Understanding differences in health behaviors by education. Journal of Health Economics, 29(1), 1-28.

Eisenberger, N. I., & Cole, S. W. (2012). Social neuroscience and health: Neurophysiological mechanisms linking social ties with physical health. Nature Neuroscience, 15(5), 669-674.

House, J. S., Landis, K. R., & Umberson, D. (1988). Social relationships and health. Science, 241(4865), 540-545.

Krieger, N. (2001). A glossary for social epidemiology. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 55(10), 693-700.

Krieger, N. (2012). Epidemiology and the people's health: Theory and context. Oxford University Press.

McEwen, B. S. (2012). Brain on stress: How the social environment gets under the skin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(Supplement 2), 17180-17185.

McEwen, B. S. (2017). Neurobiological and systemic effects of chronic stress. Chronic Stress, 1, 2470547017692328.

World Health Organization. (2020). Social determinants of health. https://www.who.int/teams/social-determinants-of-health.