Health & Healthcare

Health sociology in the department involves the examination of health and illness at the intersections of social structures and institutions, governments and policies, healthcare systems and personal experiences. Health sociologists conduct research in the following areas of specialization:

1. Social determinants of health

This area involves investigation of the influence of social, political and economic inequalities on the differential distribution of health and illness within populations and among groups of individuals. In particular, scholars in the department conduct research on the health effects of socioeconomic status and social class, race and ethnicity, housing, social capital, income generation practices, and neighbourhood of residence. (Carpiano, Fu, Lauster, Qian, Richardson, Veenstra)

 2. Experiences of health and illness

This prominent area of health sociology, with roots in phenomenology and symbolic interactionism, focuses on exploring meanings associated with experiences of health, illness, illness-related stigma, and care-seeking for individuals and their families and on patterns of communication between clients of health services and service providers. (Martin-Matthews, Richardson)

 3. Forms and activities of healthcare institutions

The field of health sociology also includes examination of the organization of healthcare institutions and their role in shaping the delivery of health services. This area includes a long tradition of research focused on how medical students are socialized into the medical profession well as examinations of the culture of hospitals and nursing homes and implications for the quality of care provided. Current research involves investigation of the effects of privatization and outsourcing of hospital support services and issues pertaining to the recruitment, retention, training and work dynamics of home support workers. (Martin-Matthews)

 4. Health and social policy

Work in this area seeks to identify the implications of health and social policies for the nature of healthcare systems and the health and well-being of populations. Current research investigates how the construction and use of measurement instruments influences policy decisions and understandings about health, and the secondary health impacts of different social policies. (Lauster, Richardson)