HEALTH, HEALTH POLICY, AND HEALTH SERVICES
The Division of Health, Health Policy, and Health Services is dedicated to the critical study of all aspects of health and health care delivery in the 21st century. Our concerns include but are not limited to:
1. The study of the social sources of disease and disability in industrial and developing societies. Division members are especially interested in the effects of race, class, gender, age, and sexuality on the distribution of health, illnesses (chronic and acute), and disability. Members are also interested how social structural features of society (e.g.: the organization of work, the distribution of income, the operation of social welfare institutions, environmental policy, etc.) may affect the health of populations.
2. The study of social definitions of health and illness, both within and outside the health professions. Division members are especially interested in the power of the medical profession to define the meaning of health and illness and in the efforts of clients and patients to enhance their own self-determination. Members also study experiences of health, illness and disability and the ways social structural arrangements shape those experiences.
3. The study of the delivery of health care at the level of patient/provider interaction as well as at the institutional level. Division members examine the composition, practices and emerging and evolving roles of various health care professions and the structure and operation of health care delivery institutions, such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, manufactures and marketers of medical products, emergency medical services and complementary and alternative medicine.
4. The comparative study of health care delivery systems and health care policies. Division members seek to understand the ways in which macro-level structures and policies affect individual lives and to explore possibilities for reform and reconstruction of health care systems.
5. The complexities arising from the interdependence of technological change, other social institutions, and health: Division members examine the emerging roles of information technology, telemedicine, the growing impact of practices in other institutional realms (such as environmental, food safety, and workplace practices) on the health of individuals and populations.
The Division of Health, Health Policy, and Health Services includes scholars and activists with diverse points of view. Recognizing the essential link between inequalities structured around race, class, gender, age, and sexuality and health, many members of the Division view social justice and justice in health as inseparable, with disparities in health firmly grounded in the socially structured inequalities that shape access to the resources necessary to maintain health. Justice in health, therefore, requires addressing underlying social and economic injustices. For many Division members, a just world in relation to health issues would regard the preservation and restoration of health as a basic human right. Justice in health would mean that all people would have adequate resources for preserving health and adequate access to health care regardless of gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation, disability or region. Justice in health would also mean that all people would have access to the informal and material resources that would enable them to maximize their control over all decisions that directly and indirectly affect their health.
While Division members recognize there is no “perfect” health care system or models which could be replicated unmodified in the United States, most members would probably agree that many other “Western” industrialized societies are closer to realizing the conception of health care as a basic human right. On a smaller scale, many Division members may regard certain types of freestanding clinics and mutual help groups as sources for ideas for new models of health care. Perhaps the greatest obstacles to the reform of health care in the United States are: the sheer magnitude of social inequality; a health care system that is based on conceptualizing health as a commodity; and a “medical” model of health that obscures and discounts the importance of the experience of patients and clients, and an increasingly fractionated and combative political system that frustrates meaningful change.
Updates respectfully submitted in 2011 by: Amy J. Schulz, University of Michigan (Co-Chair 2006-2008); Valerie Leiter, Simmons College (Co-Chair 2005-2007); Emily Ihara, George Mason University (Co-Chair 2007-2009); Debra Street, University at Buffalo (Co-Chair 2010-2011); Elizabeth Gage, University at Buffalo (Co-Chair 2011-2012). Original statement drafted by Arthur L. Greil, Alfred University; Jeanne Calabro, Brandeis University; Jean Elson, Brandeis University
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