Health, well-being and vulnerable populations

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International Encyclopedia of Housing and Home, 2012, Vol. 2, pp. 355 - 361
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Human vulnerability is becoming an increasing focus within diverse fields of practice such as nursing and health, economics, sociology, planning, environmental science, and disaster management. It is a complex, multidimensional, and relative notion, and, as Chambers (1989) explains, can be broadly understood as the exposure of people to contingencies, risks, shocks, and stresses, and their concomitant defencelessness and/or inability to reduce, mitigate, and cope with such stressors relative to other members of a given society. Over recent decades understanding of human vulnerability has been greatly enhanced via a focus on the unequal distribution of adverse effects of shocks, stressors, and risks within particular social and economic groups, and thus on the recognition that certain population subgroups are afflicted disproportionately by such stresses.
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