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SOCA02 Chapter 19.docx

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Sheldon Ungar

SOCA02 Chapter 19 – Health and Medicine  The Black Death o Plague was from a bacillus spreading from fleas to rats to people, killed many because they lived close together in unsanitary conditions and spread easily o Main themes of sociology of health and medicine:  Some groups were more likely to die, health risks are unevenly distributed (women – men, upper – lower classes, rich – poor countries, privileged – disadvantaged)  Health problems change over time o Life expectancy: the average age at death of the members of a population o Different treatment methods  Medieval doctors stressed importance of prevention, exercise, a balanced diet and a congenial environment in maintaining good health – modern medicine emphasizes high-tech cures rather than on preventive and environmental measures  Health and inequality – defining and measuring health o Life expectancy throughout the world is less than the 83 in Japan today o Accounting for the difference between the highest average human lifespan in the world and life expectancy in a given country is one of the main tasks of the sociologist of health  The social causes of illness and death:  Human-environment factors o Social class, occupation, and nationality correspond to differences in surroundings o Gas wells, logging operations, hazardous waste sites and polluting industries are usually near First Nation communities or areas populated by the poor, politically marginalized, or certain visible minority groups  Lifestyle factors o Smoking, alcohol, drugs, poor diet, lack of exercise, and social isolation are associated with poor health and premature death o Tobacco accounts for 1/5 of all deaths – outweighs suicide, homicide and accidents o Unmarried people have a greater chance of dying earlier than married  Factors related to the public health and health care systems o Public health system: government-run programs ensuring access to clean drinking water, basic sewage, sanitation services and inoculations o Health care system: nation’s clinics, hospitals, and other facilities for ensuring health and treating illness o Absence of these is associated with high rates of disease and low life expectancy  Country of residence o Providing citizens with clean water and a sewage system = decline in frequency and severity of epidemics th o Industrialized countries developed public health systems in mid-19 century o Positive association between national wealth and good health o Infant mortality: annual number of deaths before the age of one for every 1000 live births  Low in rich countries  Class inequalities and health care o Socioeconomic status is correlated with aspects of health and illness – people with low income die at a younger age than people with high income o Health deteriorates moving down class hierarchy because:  High stress and inability to cope with it – stress, financial problems  Differences in the earliest stages of development that have lifelong consequences – nutrition deficiencies during pregnancy, stress, smoking, etc.  Lack of knowledge  Unequal access to health resources  Environmental exposure – exposure to incinerators, mills, dumpsites, factories, etc.  Racial inequalities in health care o Marginalized groups are subject to negative health outcomes because of social exclusion based on race o Labour market segregation, high unemployment, low occupation status, dangerous worksites, etc. with experiences of racism lead to unequal health services o Socially excluded groups with jobs still live in inferior areas due to racial discrimination in housing, suffering from reduced access to medical services  Gender inequalities in health care: the feminist contribution o Gender bias in medical research – focus on “men’s diseases” like cardiac arrest, than on “women’s diseases” like breast cancer. Women are also excluded in major health research studies o Gender bias o Women live longer than men and have a greater need for long-term care. Low status of women in developing countries lead to high rates of mortality and morbidity (acute and chronic illness). ¼ -1/2 of deaths of women in developing countries are to due pregnancy-related causes o Canadian women face a higher risk of poverty after divorce and of widowhood  Comparative health care from a conflict perspective o Rich countries spend more on health care than poor countries but this does not mean it buys good health o U.S. spends twice as much on health care than in Japan and has more doctors per 10 000 people than in Canada but there is higher infant mortality and shorter life expectancy  Gap between rich and poor is greater in the U.S. than in other rich countries. Higher level of inequality in a country = more unhealthy the population is  Cost of health care is high in U.S. o U.S. lacks a public health c
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