Medical Sociology and Public Health

Public health refers to all organized measures whether public or private to prevent disease, promote health, and prolongs life among the population as a whole. Its activities aim to provide conditions in which people can be healthy and focus on entire populations, not on individual patients or diseases. Medical sociology and public health share many of the same concerns in the study of social and cultural factors that affect the health of the population. Differences in theoretical approaches, methodological procedures, conceptualization and measurement, and research objectives, however, often serve to limit the potential for collaboration between the two disciplines. Sociologists possess many of the theoretical models and analytical techniques needed in public health for the study of the impact of poverty, inequality, socioeconomic status, differentials in power, and social and cultural differences on disease outcomes and health status. This field draws on traditional sociological issues and contributes to them through reformulations of such basic concepts as social systems and institutions, professionalism, social work and social change, and social interaction and negotiation.

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