• Medical sociology focuses on the social causes and consequences of health and illness.
• Medical sociology brings sociological perspectives, theories and methods to the study of health illness and medical practice. • Social conditions and situations not only promote and, in some cases, cause the possibility of illness and disability but also enhance prospects for disease prevention and health maintenance.
Development of Medical Sociology
Earliest works undertaken by physicians
Did not begin in earnest until World War II
Initial alliance with medicine was in psychiatry
Hollingshead and Redlich produced inportant research that
correlated different types of mental disorders with psychiatric care
• 1951 oriented American sociology toward theory
• Wrote book The Social System which contained the concept of the sick role
• It describes a patterned set of expectations defining the norms and values appropriate to being sick
• He provided a theoretical approach for medical sociology that brought the recognition it needed in its early development in the U.S.
Practical application vs. Theory
• Sociology in medicine can be characterized as applied research and analysis primarily motivated by a medical problem
• Sociologists usually work in medical schools, nursing schools, public health schools, teaching hospitals, public health
agencies, and other health organizations.
• No single, all purpose definition of health that fits all circumstances, but there are many concepts such as health as normality, the absence of disease or the ability to function. • The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well being, and not
merely the absence of disease or injury.
• Being healthy also means having a sense of well-being.
• Rene Dubos explains that health can be defined as the ability to function.
• Healthy are not free from health problems but can function to the point that they can do what they want to do,
The public’s health
• Awareness that disease could be caused by unhealthy social conditions and lifestyles spread through common sense and
• Significant development occurred when it was realized that uncontaminated food, water and air, as well as sanitary living conditions, could reduce the onset and spread of
Reemergence of Infectious disease
• Newly emerging or re-emerging infectious diseases is now being used to refer to this phenomenon
• Some pathogens have shown a remarkable ability to resist antibiotics, certain disease –transmitting insects have resisted pesticide, and humans have created ecological disturbances
uncovering new diseases.
• Ethical (or Unethical) decisions in medicine can have profound social implications and may reflect discrimination and
prejudice against particular social groups
• Tuskegee Syphilis Study in Alabama in 1932
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