Social Aspects Of Health, Illness And Healthcare

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These they apply to themselves as individuals, but in developing them they draw on all sorts of knowledge and wisdom, some of it derived from their own experience, some of it handed on by word of mouth, other parts of it derived from highly trained practitioners.

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Most sociological studies of lay health beliefs agree that public conceptions of health and illness vary according to the immediate material and social circumstances in which people find themselves. These circumstances can act to constrain the possibilities for action to change an 'unhealthy lifestyle'. Nevertheless, health promotion strategies have in the past assumed that persuading people to adopt healthy 'lifestyles' was largely about changing individual attitudes. However, as the work of Davison et al has shown, to oppose so-called 'lifestylism' the awareness of the causes and possible ways to avoid illness through behaviour change with 'fatalism' life is full of random chance events outside of my control , is to misunderstand the real situation for most people.

In their fieldwork in South Wales, the researchers found that:. Rather, the recognition of a pervasive uncertainty in the field of illness and death existed side by side with a common-sense approach to taking appropriate care' Davison et al: At least in part, one consequence of such lay beliefs research was to bring about some shift of focus in the health prevention strategy of the government.

People were treated as passive recipients of information and services, rather than active partners. This contributed to a widening of the health gap: we now know that the better off are more likely to act on health information to change behavior. In , in recognition of the cumulative sociological evidence of the potential for dissatisfaction and misunderstanding resulting from the different perspectives of treatment and care existing between doctors and patients, the Department of Health set out guidelines for a new approach to doctor-patient relations that it termed ' The Expert Patients Initiative ' DoH This shift in clinical focus is all about formally recognising the intimate and rational knowledge and experience that patients have of their illness, and encouraging patients to take an ' active role in their own care '.

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Sociological research into these lay health beliefs spans a thirty-year period, Table 2 below is an attempt to summarise the main findings and give examples of how such beliefs play out in the real world 'indicators'. Largely a working-class conception, but also held by the elderly, particularly those in poor health, who were less likely to define health in terms of illness. Constructed from appearance or circumstances surrounding an event, i. Nevertheless, while it is recognised that individuals have a key role in managing their own health and should be respected as active partners in their care, it is equally important to act upon the structural socioeconomic factors underlying health beliefs and behaviours.

Despite increasing acknowledgement of the key role of the wider determinants of health, there remains a tendency for health promotion policy initiatives that start off with an upstream or social determinants approach to drift downstream to largely individual, lifestyle factors, with investment at the individual rather than population level Carey et al. That is, their perception of what is 'normal'. Accordingly, the decision to seek professional medical help was either promoted or delayed by social factors.

However, the interesting feature of the model is that the decision to seek help does not necessarily lead directly on a path to the medical professional. People draw upon what is termed a 'lay referral' system which includes family, friends and the local community - so for example a young mother faced with a baby that is continually crying may choose not to go directly to the GP because they may be afraid that they will be categorised as an 'anxious mother' and so instead approach their own mother or other mothers with older children for advice.

People increasingly are engaging in 'self-medication' as generic drug treatments become more widely available over the counter. They may also be one of the hundreds of thousands of people each year who opt for what is loosely termed 'alternative' medical care; now a multi-billion pound industry in Britain. Despite the influence of such help-seeking models, health policy over the past two decades has generally been less concerned with illness behaviour than with developing strategies to promote health maintenance health behaviour. Here both social psychological models and sociological approaches to understanding lay health beliefs have been applied in attempting to bring about health and lifestyle change.

Family relationships and social support. Social science research has suggested that the relative quality of individual and group social relationships serve to act as psycho-social mediators in health outcomes. The quality of these relationships is seen to reflect the degree to which individuals possess or have access to a wide set of social networks and a shared set of social norms see Section Sociologists recognise these factors as being key characteristics of a cohesive society.

The findings from a wide range of epidemiological studies have concluded that social and psychological stress is one of the major factors impacting upon an individual's ability to maintain their health Wilkinson ; Marmot and Wilkinson; Marmot and Wilkinson This construct focuses attention upon the importance of inter-personal relations. It encapsulates notions of emotional support, instrumental aid, information giving and personal appraisal. However, as a construct it can lack a certain amount of clarity. Social psychologists see sources of social support as deriving from social networks.

The importance of these networks lies in their function as a 'buffer' against the negative impact of stressful life events - helping people to adapt. The main source of social support in chronic illness, for example, comes from the family. Brown and Harris's classic research into clinical depression amongst working class women recognised that differential availability of social support was a critical factor in a person's relative 'vulnerability' to stressful life events.

They saw social support acting through what they termed intimacy , serving as a powerful mediator between the stressor provoking agent and the onset of illness depression.

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The importance of social support for health is highlighted in the Marmot Review , with loneliness and social isolation linked to premature mortality and increased risk of depression. Strong social networks are associated with increased happiness and health, and better recovery from illness; in addition, social participation may act as a protective factor against dementia and cognitive decline.


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People living in more deprived areas are more likely to severely lack social support compared to those in more affluent areas pp. The lack of social support as negatively related to health and health inequalities is recognised as a public health issue by the Department of Health. No Health Without Mental Health also emphasises the importance of social inclusion and support to improve mental health in citizens and communities. It includes updated chapters on It includes updated chapters on established themes of social aspects of health, disease and medical practice, social structures and the organisation of health services, as well as brand new chapters on contemporary topics such as globalisation, the sociology of the body and digital technologies.

As proven by previous editions, this text has special salience for students of medicine and allied health programmes. Moreover, with increased attention to international perspectives and examples and an accessible writing style, it remains an ideal choice for undergraduate and postgraduate health modules on Sociology courses across the world. Seventh edition of an established and widely used textbook Proven track record of broad interdisciplinary appeal, appealing to students in Medicine and Allied Health programmes as well as those on Sociology courses Compiled and written by a world class editor and contributors Extensive use of boxes, graphs and tables throughout the chapters to integrate theoretical ideas with real-world examples.

He is the author and editor of many books and journal articles on social theory and the sociology of health and healthcare.

Social Aspects of Health, Illness and Healthcare - Mary Larkin - Google книги

He is a founding co-editor of the international journal Social Theory and Health. Cart Continue Shopping. All prices are shown including VAT. The submitted promocode is invalid. Discount code already used. It can only be used once. Enter promo code.


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