Medical Sociology Chapter 1

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Medical Sociology

• 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 Parsons
• 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.

Defining Health
• 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

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