Health Sciences 1002A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Medical Sociology

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Chapter 1
Health sociology focuses on the social determinants of health and illness
eg. income, education, environment, and working conditions
Health Sociologists look for social patterns of illness
variation in health status between:
o men and women
o poor and wealthy
o immigrants and native-born
o Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal
Then, health sociologists seek social explanations rather than biological or psychological
Introduction: The Social Context of Health and Illness
Social patterning of suicide rates identified by Emile Durkheim during the early 19th century.
Suicide rates varied between countries and between different social groups within a country
o In 2004, 3613 suicide related deaths occurred in Canada and 76% were male 35-44 and
Social context of health and illness also evident when we compare Life Expectancy (LE) of countries
LE significantly lower in less developed countries than industrially developed ones
o LE in developed countries 64 , LE in developing countries 51 (2006)
living conditions of your country significantly impact LE
High LE is not caused by any biological advantages in the gene pool but by two basic reasons:
o 1) LE can change within a short period of time which is too short to be caused by
biological advantages in the gene pool
o 2) The longer immigrants live in their new country, the more their health mirrors that of
the local population.
Referred to as the "Healthy Immigrant Effect"
Even though Canada has a high LE , we must distinguish between different social groups in
o LE figures mask significant health inequalities among social groups.
those of low socioeconomic decent in Canada have highest rates of illness and
premature death, and use illness-related behaviours such as smoking.
Aboriginals have a lower LE than the national average, and suicide rates 11
times the national average.
Health sociology provides alternative reasoning as to why illnesses occur other than biological and
psychological ones.
it explores the social, economic, cultural, and political features of society that influence certain
groups and why they get sicker and die sooner than others.
The History Of The Social Origins of Illness: Social Medicine and Public Health
Public Health (Social Health) -Policies, programs, and services designed to keep citizens healthy and
improve quality of life. Focuses on well being of general population
rather than individual persons.
A clear link between infectious diseases and poverty was established during the 1800's.
Engels made strong links between poor living and working conditions as an outcome
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