Sociology and Healthcare

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Sociology and Healthcare

Health-care is a sociological institution within the American Culture. Health-care has many different aspects that pertain to patients, care givers and governmental approach to supply healthcare to all citizens. Sociology is the “scientific study of social behavior and human groups.” (Schaefer, 2009) Sociology plays a large role in how Americans look at our health-care systems and approach health and illness in one’s own life.

Health-care has many different definitions and can be interpreted differently by each culture and social class and even by the three different sociological perspectives. The main goal in health-care is the prevention, treatment and management of illness, to preserve mental and physical well being. Health-care is a science and system much like sociology. As defined by the World Health Organization (http://www.who.int) health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity. Health-care is a practice not a defined science much like sociology. Many Americans believe that health-care is a fine tuned science and should have all of the answers to one’s own health issues and concerns. But much like sociology health-care is affected by numerous variables such as human behaviors and interpretations.

There are three different theoretical perspectives in sociology: the Interactionist perspective, the Conflict perspective and the Functionalist perspective. The Interactionist perspective is the study of micro sociology and how humans interact with one another. The Conflict perspective is the study of tensions between groups and how social human behavior reacts to the tensions especially focusing on power and the allocation of resources. The Functionalist perspective is the study of human behaviors that focuses on stability and reliance of groups are structured to support one another. All three perspectives play a large role on the success of health-care within the American culture.

Looking at the Interactionist perspective on health-care and its approach is from a “point of view, patients are not passive; often, they actively seek the services of a health care practitioner.” (Schaefer, 2009). Patients are what make health-care happen. The interactions between patients and health-care providers are what form the functioning of the practice of health-care. To perform the practice of health care to sustain health and prevent illness health-care providers and patients must interact. Many studies have been done on the interactions between health-care providers and the relationships to patients. These studies have found that there is an order applied to the relationship between patients and health-care providers. Such as a patient must initiate a relationship with a provider, discuss their health concerns and establish a plan of action, such as in the study by a group of health-care providers from Australia focusing on health plans for patients and the interactional order of caring for patients. “The paper reveals the exercise of both "competitive power" and "collaborative power" in the negotiated order of health services. Both forms of power are exercised in all settings. Relationships among clinicians in various occupations are mediated by the expectation that doctors assume responsibility for patient management and coordinating roles in health care teams, and the degree of acuity of particular health care settings.” (Nugus, Greenfield, Travaglia, Westbrook, & Braithwaite, J. 2010). The interactionist perspective on health care influences relationships between patient and provider, by establishing a give and take platform. Patient gives or presents the problem; the health-care provider takes on the problem and recommends a plan of action for cure or maintenance of the illness. This perspective is a one on one interaction between patient and health-care provider.

When looking at the Conflict...
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