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Lecture 7

Sociology of health and illness lecture 7, 8, and 9.docx

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOCI 3645
Professor
Datelina
Semester
Fall

Description
Sociology of Health and Illness Lecture 7 Tahreem Mahmndd October 22 , 2013 Social Psychological Explanations for Illness  Stress and outcomes, social support and coping, Type-A behvaiour and heart disease, sense of coherence, mental illness – sociological explanations, social cohesion and social inclusion vs. the “culture of inequality” Social-psychological factors related to morbidity and mortality  Stress/distress and resilience  Subjective perception of one’s wellbeing or illness  Sense of control of one’s life/sense of coherence  Sense of justice/injustice  Social support and the subjective perception of support  Can religious prayer heal? Outcomes of the stress process  Although stress does not cause mental illness, exposure to stress does increase the risk of experiencing mental health problems  probabilistic relationship  There are substantial differences in the types of stressors one is exposed to and in the ways stress is experienced by different groups in society;  There are many different mental health outcomes associated with stress, e.g. emotional distress, substance abuse or dependence, traumatic disorders, behavioural disorders, and stress outcomes over time;  A variety of stress mediators explain how stress influences mental health outcomes  they transit the effects of stress in the ways they influence our mental processes and behaviour: Ex., psychological responses to threat, cognitive processes (e.g., threat and situational appraisal) that affect how individuals respond to potentially stressful situations, the degree of fit between individuals and their social environments,  There is a small minority of people whole mental health is seriously damaged by exposure to stress  current research seeks to understand why most people adapt to stress while others do not.  Both personal and social characteristics are important in understanding differential responses to stress (stress reactivity) and the degree to which an individual is vulnerable to stress (stress vulnerability). Also spill-over effects from individual stressful events onto family settings (e.g. how the family copes with cancer or job loss)  The relationship between stress and psychological outcomes is modified by social structural variables, e.g. position in status hierarchies, class, ethnicity, gender, and age which differentiate between individuals in terms of vulnerability to stress and likelihood to experience specific disorders, ex: poverty is more damaging to the mental health of black people than to white people (Kessler and neighbours, 1986). Sociology of Health and Illness Lecture 7 Tahreem Mahndod October 22 , 2013 Mental Health and Outcomes of the Stress Process  Social stress acts as a nonspecific risk factor  its impact is not limited to a single disorder but is manifested across a broad spectrum of impaired functioning.  Outcomes include: o Symptoms of emotional distress (nonspecific psychological distress) e.g. depression and anxiety o Affective disorders, especially depression; o Behavioural disorder/maladaptive behaviours, e.g. substance abuse, addiction. Social Support and Coping  What is social in social support? Definition: Social support always involves either the presence or implication of stable human relationships. Several domains of research about social support: o Social bonds o Social networks o Meaningful social contact o Availability of confidants o Human companionship o Emotional support o Social support o Social integration vs. exclusion  The field becomes very active since the 1980s with research in 3 main areas, sometimes summarized also as mental health: o Stress o Social support o Coping 2 Important aspects of Social Support Demonstrated by early Sociological Research/evidence  Primary group bonds are essential for emotional stability and healthy interaction of individuals with their more extended social environment;  Social support is also seen as a developmental contingency associated with the social and physiological adaption of individuals and their well-being throughout life Concept of Social Support  This is a multi-dimensional and multifactorial construct. The main categories of social support that are consequential for people’s mental health are 3 sub-constructs: o According to Dean and Lin (1977): (1) network resources of support; (2) supportive behaviour; (3) subjective appraisals/perceptions of support; Sociology of Health and Illness Lecture 7 Tahreem Mahmndd October 22 , 2013 o According to Barrera (1986): (1) socially embedded ; (2) intact support; (3) perceived social support o Most influential conceptualization – by Cobb (1976): Social support is seen as “Information belonging to one or more of the following 3 classes: (1) information leading the subject to believe that s/he is cared for and loved; (2) information leading the subject to believe that s/he is respected and valued; (3) information leading the subject to believe that s/he belongs to a network of communication and mutual obligation.  Cobb distinguishes social support from other forms of support, e.g., instrumental support (counselling, assisting), active support (mothering), and material support (providing goods and services). Social Support as a Social-Psychological variable: Why?  Social psychologists hold that events and circumstances in the real world affect the individual only to the extent and in the form that they are perceived  perceptual reality is a psychological reality: it is the actual (mediating) variable that influences behaviour and development.  The great bulk of evidence supports the linkage between social support and health/well- being comes from studies of emotional support (=perceived support.)  Wethington and Kessler (1986)  evidence about the primacy of perceived over received support o Perceptions about the availability of support are more important than support transactions per se
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