Concerns about health and the health care system have reached a fever pitch in Canada in recent years. The public is subjected to a daily onslaught of media stories about the causes and treatment of disease and the threats to the sustainability of the Canadian health care system. Traditionally, the study of health has been informed by a variety of perspectives that for too long have been isolated from each other and from an explicit concern with having findings applied to solving the health problems identified by research. Much of the isolation can be attributed to the nature of the disciplines that have evolved to ask and answer questions about health, illness, and the health care system. Epidemiology has been the primary tool wielded by the medical profession in quest of the causes of disease and illness. Its application however, has been narrow, with little appreciation of the complex of political, economic, and social factors that set the state for the onset of disease and illness. The emerging field of social epidemiology is a favourable counterweight to this tradition. Sociology has made major contributions to understanding the causes of illness and the experience by different groups of disease and illness by casting a wider net for the factors that explain health, illness, and the organization of health services. It has however, been less concerned with identifying the forces that drive these different experiences of health and illness. Like epidemiology, there has been relatively little penetration of concepts and understanding into the sociology of health from the study of public policy and its implications for solving the problems epidemiologists and sociologists identify.Read more ›
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