Sociology in Our Times Study Set 4
Quiz 14 :
Health, Health Care, and Disability
Previously, most medical doctors, clinicians and researchers approached the health care problems in terms of single causes for specific diseases. For example, a particular disease was considered to be caused only by activities of bacteria, viruses, toxins, accidents, or abnormalities in a patient's genetic makeup. However, recent research began to unfold the relationships between health and, psychological, and social factors. The social researchers have discovered the link between socioeconomic status and health. The socio economic factors include the influence of social networks, the culture of the families, current or anticipated employment status, level of education, personal beliefs, etc. Researchers have not only documented the importance of these factors, but also explained the mechanisms and dynamics involved in foundations of the health.
Researchers have long discovered that culture influences many aspects of physical and mental illness. There are differences due to cultural influences in expression and manifestation of symptoms, mode of coping, discharge of family and community support, and methods to seeking treatment. Certain physical illness and mental illness is a product of complex interactions among physical, psychological, and social factors. The dynamics of the social factors in contribution to mental illness is given below. • Some ethnic and racial minorities in the US confront a social and economic environment of inequality through racism, domestic violence, and poverty. An exposure to inequalities leads to reduced physical and mental health. Researchers have identified that people in the lower layer of income, education, and occupation are likely to have mental illness more than the middle and upper income groups. • Being victims of racism and discrimination creates stress among the victims, which adversely affect physical and mental health. The risk of mental disorders such as depression and anxiety is high among people who have experienced racial discrimination. • Cultural misunderstandings and communication issues between victims and health care providers aggravate the situation leading to ineffective management of the illness. The sociologists have demonstrated that the effect of race, class and gender on the health status of an individual is far greater than realized earlier.
As with other social phenomenon, health care also can be viewed from different perspectives proposed by the sociological theories of functionalism, conflict approach and symbolic interaction view. Each perspective is described below. • Functionalism: This approach proposes that health care system provide positive and negative functions in a society. Along with positive outcomes, a health care system presents certain negative consequences too. Health care is improved by maximizing the positive outcomes and containing negative outcomes. • Conflict approach: The primary assumption of this approach is that health care reflects inequalities within the society. Excessive bureaucracy and private involvement in health care leads to exploitation of the common man. The solutions suggested by the holders of this view are that policies should be framed to improve access to health care for marginalized ethnic groups, the poorer population, and women. • Symbolic Interactionism: The main proposition of this theory is that prevalence of illness in the society is socially constructed, at least partly. Various entities are working tandem to patronize patients' population. The institutions and health care professionals must follow ethical and moral principles. The US government may adopt all the suggestion provided by each sociological theorists for effective management of the health care system.