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INTRODUCTION TO MEDICAL SOCIOLOGY FOR BIOMEDICAL STUDENTS. Kai-Lit Phua, PhD FLMI Associate Professor School of Medicine & Health Sciences Monash University Malaysia Campus. Biographical details.

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introduction to medical sociology for biomedical students

INTRODUCTION TO MEDICAL SOCIOLOGY FOR BIOMEDICAL STUDENTS

Kai-Lit Phua, PhD FLMI

Associate Professor

School of Medicine & Health Sciences

Monash University Malaysia Campus

biographical details
Biographical details

Kai-Lit Phua received his BA (cum laude) in Public Health & Population Studies from the University of Rochester and his PhD in Sociology from Johns Hopkins University. He also holds professional qualifications from the insurance industry.

Prior to joining academia, he worked as a research statistician for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and for the Managed Care Department of a leading insurance company in Singapore.

He was awarded an Asian Public Intellectual Senior Fellowship by the Nippon Foundation in 2003.

lecture notes
Lecture notes:

http://phuakl.tripod.com/phuakl1.html

Click on Medical Sociology A or

Medical Sociology B

learning objectives
Learning Objectives
  • To gain an understanding of sociology as a social science discipline
  • To appreciate the usefulness of sociology in solving biomedical and public health problems
  • To be introduced to a number of major sociological/epidemiological variables
what is sociology
What is “Sociology”?
  • Sociology is one of the social sciences
  • Sociologists study human societies, human behaviour in groups, and how individual behaviour is shaped by social institutions and socio-economic forces
  • Examples of social institutions: family, school, religion, legal system
  • Historically, sociology is associated with the challenge of responding to social problems arising from industrialisation and urbanisation in W. Europe
what is medical sociology
What is “Medical Sociology”?
  • A better term for it is “Sociology of Health and Illness”
  • Using the sociological way of thinking to study or solve biomedical/public health problems

1. Sociology of medicine

2. Sociology in medicine

sociology of medicine
Sociology of Medicine
  • This approach focuses on theory and concepts
  • An example would be the famous book by Eliot Freidson called “Professional Dominance” i.e. a study of why and how doctors are dominant in the health professions and health institutions
  • Another example would be Paul Starr’s book called “The Social Transformation of American Medicine” which predicted erosion of this dominance with the rise of corporate medicine
sociology in medicine
Sociology in Medicine
  • This approach focuses on applications and solving problems using sociological knowledge
  • An example would be David Mechanic’s studies of “illness behaviour”
  • Another example would be studies of “adherence” (“compliance”)
major sociological concepts useful to biomedical students
Major Sociological Concepts Useful to Biomedical Students

Ethnicity (“race”)

Class (social class)

Gender (“sex”)

Age

Region (geographical location)

Education (educational attainment)

Marital status

Religion

Other e.g. sexuality/sexual orientation

ethnicity race health
Ethnicity (“race”) & Health
  • How does membership in a particular ethnic group affect one’s health? Example: health of indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities
  • Measuring health at the population level:

Morbidity (sickness) rates

Disability rates

Mortality (deaths) rates

Life expectancy

  • Culture, health and disease e.g. nutrition patterns, other health-related behaviour
  • Culture-bound illnesses
class social class health
Class (social class) & Health
  • Social class differences in health (the “social class gradient in health”) :

People in the lower classes tend to have poorer health than people in the upper classes

Marmot’s “Whitehall studies” of British civil servants document the existence of a health gradient by civil service rank

Note: Sometimes, “SES” (Socio Economic Status) is used instead of “Class”

gender sex health
Gender (“sex”) & Health
  • Gender versus biological sex
  • Gender, socialisation and health
  • Cervical cancer – related to biological sex
  • Lung cancer
  • Substance abuse (tobacco, alcohol, illegal drugs)
  • Sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) e.g. HIV/AIDS
  • Injuries from risk-taking behaviour
  • Body image and eating disorders
age health
Age & Health
  • The life cycle and health:

Before birth (fetus)

Infant

Child

Teenager

Young adulthood

Middle adulthood

Old age

region health
Region & Health
  • Geographical location and health:

Rural versus Urban

Urban slums versus Desirable urban areas

Poor country versus rich country

Physical characteristics/weather of region

education health
Education & Health
  • Educational level and health:
  • Less educated people tend to have poorer health than better educated people
  • Female education is associated with lower infant mortality rate
marital status health
Marital Status & Health
  • Marital status and health:
  • Marriage is good for mental health (for most people)
  • People living alone (single people, the widowed, elderly living by themselves) tend to have poorer health
religion health
Religion & Health
  • Religious values and health:

Religious beliefs can affect health-related behaviour e.g. diet, smoking, drinking, sexuality, seeing the doctor (including the psychiatrist) and seeking medical care e.g. Jehovah’s Witness and blood transfusion

other concepts more advanced
Other concepts(more advanced)
  • Medicalisation:

What used to be a social problem gets redefined as a “medical problem” to be treated by doctors and other health professionals e.g. alcoholism, domestic violence, compulsive gambling

  • Demedicalisation:

An example would be homosexuality no longer being classified as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association in the 1970s

the end
THE END

THANK YOU