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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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Kai-Lit Phua, PhD FLMI
School of Medicine & Health Sciences
Monash University Malaysia Campus
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.
Click on Medical Sociology A or
Medical Sociology B
1. Sociology of medicine
2. Sociology in medicine
Class (social class)
Region (geographical location)
Education (educational attainment)
Other e.g. sexuality/sexual orientation
Morbidity (sickness) rates
Mortality (deaths) rates
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”
Before birth (fetus)
Rural versus Urban
Urban slums versus Desirable urban areas
Poor country versus rich country
Physical characteristics/weather of region
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
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
An example would be homosexuality no longer being classified as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association in the 1970s