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Introduction: Health is a complex concept, influenced by scientific developments as well as by pathophysiological and socioeconomic factors, which all contribute to the interrelationship between health and society. Aim: To review the social determinants of health and to analyze how they affect health status. Method: Α comprehensive search of the international and Greek literature was performed, using the electronic databases Medline, Science Direct, PsycINFO, Embase, Iatrotek, and the Google Scholar, along with a search over HEAL-Link. The key-words used were “social determinants of health”, “health”, “disease”, “poverty”, “mortality” and “unemployment”. The search included articles published from 1986 to 2013 and excluded purely medical articles on mortality rates. Results: The factors that have been recorded in the international literature as determinants or social determinants of health are income, social stratification and level of education, work and working conditions, unemployment, stress, early childhood and family environment, social support and relationships, dietary factors and living conditions, removals (of individuals or groups) and addiction to various substances. Conclusions: This review provided a vision of health from a multidimensional and multifactorial viewpoint, rather than in the traditional medical approach. The maintenance and improvement of health globally must be based on targeted action to address the social determinants of health, with assessment of needs, current challenges and international trends.