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SOC309Y1 (31)

Brandt: Behaviour, Disease, and Health in the 20th Century United States

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Robb Travers

SOC309September 30 2011Behaviour Disease and Health in the TwentiethCentury United StatesAllan M BrandtNature of morbidity and mortalitySociety has attempted to question and study itMoralphilosophical ideals cultural valuesbeliefs involvedHistorically subject to dramatic shifts even for short periods Patterns of health and disease in US underwent radical transformation this centuryReflected in major demographic indicators nature of practice of medicine cultural norms and values concerning health and diseaseIncrease life expectancy 47 in 1900 to 75 in 1993 Die from different reasons now Changing perceptions about what causes disease nature of risk behaviour and responsibility reflect powerful moral beliefs Beliefs affect patterns of social behaviour and the organization and delivery of health care Examine cultural implications and meanings of health transitionexplore theories of disease causality reflect social and political ideologies concerning risk and responsibilitythBeginning of 20 CenturyInfectious disease constituted the predominant causes of deaththMalaria smallpox yellow fever and cholera in the 1819 century created sense of vulnerabilityEpidemicsperception of world not under human controlLimits of humansEarly explanations based on religious meanings and responses Epidemics resembled fluctuation in more basic patterns of endemic infectionsTuberculosis and pneumonia as a more serious riskNewborns died due to diarrheal diseases from common infectionsDisease as selectiveMedical theories emphasized hereditary quality rich vs poor living standardsthLate 19 CenturyGerm theory disease development altered medical and social meanings of diseaseRobert Koch single pathogen invariable associated with specific disease Led to discovery that people could be infected but remain disease free Healthy carrierBiomedicineGerm Theory led to better understanding of cause and nature of disease but not to immediateeffective therapies
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