Sociology of Healthcare has definitely been one of the more interesting courses I have taken at Boston University. As a senior in Sargent College, I have taken many health and health-related courses before, but I liked how this course had a different spin and perspective to it. I never really understood what sociologists did, but it was eye-opening to see that they discover and question the underlying factors that influence things, such as healthcare in the United States. Personally, I felt that the first lecture lingered with me and laid the foundation of the course for the semester because we learned about the stark difference between sociology in medicine and sociology of medicine. I never thought about the idea that you can question the healthcare system and the science behind it because in society, it is just accept as truth. The fact that sociologists can question and explore the history and factors that created healthcare into what it is today is incredible. I also found this class to be relatively important because healthcare is something we are affected by in daily life, whether we want to or not. Because of the practicality of the information we gained, we know about the Affordable Care Act, healthcare motives and trends, hospital history, different medical professions, the costs behind healthcare, factors that influence different types of people in relation to health coverage, and much more. The topic of socioeconomic factors stuck with me as well because no matter where we are in the social, gender, or race hierarchy, socioeconomic factors will always influence healthcare the most throughout the gradient. Although I do not have plans for medical school, I can take away so many relevant topics from this course as I seek for careers in healthcare administration and policy. Sociology of Healthcare was insightful and this course has been a delight.
In this class, we learned various aspects of the sociology of healthcare, but the topic that I found most interesting was about socioeconomic status in the second portion of the course. We learned that socioeconomic status is the biggest factor that influence health outcomes in the United States—even bigger than gender or race. According to the fundamental cause theory, there is an association between socioeconomic status and health disparities. Despite advances in health technology and knowledge, disparities still exist because those in lower socioeconomic status do not have the resources to protect or improve their health. This does not solely mean that the poor have worse health than those well-off; this association is true across all hierarchical gradients. We also learned about the constrained choice theory, which states that although people may know about health conditions and disparities, they are unable to do anything about it because of social constraints, their community, biological factors, and family ties. Continue reading “Smoking & Disparities”
As we progress into the second midterm, I think back to the first section and can conclude that the second half was definitely more interesting and insightful than the first. In the first section, the professor went over a lot of fundamental debates and keypoints of healthcare and gave an sociological overview of healthcare in the United States. We discussed many problems with it compared to other countries in the world, and came up with potential solutions that we as health care providers and sociologists can do in the future. In the second half of the course, we were really able to delve into details about what medical professionals face on a day to day basis and see the forces that come into play when doctors see their patients. Continue reading “Process Reflection 2”
In Peter Conrad and Kristin Barker’s article, they explain the concept of social constructionism and say that “the emphasis is on how meanings of phenomena do not necessarily inhere in the phenomena themselves but develop through interaction in a social context.” In other words, the disease itself may have an entirely different meaning than the illness, based on social context, cultural differences, lack of knowledge, and different perceptions. They also claim that a “stigmatized illness can make an illness much more difficult to treat and manage” and then go into the example about HIV/AIDS and how people are less likely to seek help for their condition. Because technology heavily influences social behavior and experiences today, do you think this has anything to do with how we view illnesses and diseases? Technology, especially the Internet, allows information to be public, available, and accessible as well, so is it bad that all this excess information is available since the public is able to interpret it however they want to? Should we be focusing on educating and reducing the stigma in society instead of giving out all this information to the public?
In the article “Understanding Racial-ethnic Disparities in Health: Sociological Contributions,” Williams and Sternthal explain in detail the many factors that influence health outcomes, such as race and racial discrimination, gender, socioeconomic status, social structure, and migration history. Although all these factors are important, I felt like the article was just listing out all the problems that influence health outcomes and wanted to prove that these problems do in fact exist. However, we already know that these factors influence health, so how should sociologists and medical professionals take what they already know and create practical solutions for our communities today? At the end of the article, they say that policy needs to be changed and that there needs to be more awareness in the public. Are there any other effective solutions that can be created and implemented today? (Maybe create/influence government policies that assist underserved communities, provide health benefits for vulnerable groups, make farmer’s markets and groceries stores more readily available in poorer communities, etc?)
On the very first day of lecture, we learned in class that there is a difference between sociology in medicine and sociology of medicine. The former means that we accept the basic principles of medicine, but the latter means that we are analyzing medicine from outside the medical system and challenging accepted beliefs and ideas claimed in this complex field. In this article titled “Income Inequality Grows With Age and Shapes Later Years,” the writer tells a story of two senior women who both grew up in frugal households but lived very different lives throughout their adult and elderly years. Continue reading “Income Inequalities With Old Age”
The article titled “Social conditions as Fundamental Causes of Health Inequalities: Theory, Evidence and Policy Implications” backs up the claim that socioeconomic status influences both health and mortality rates in communities and individuals and explains in detail why socioeconomic inequalities persist. The authors discuss that the social causes in health inequalities must include four parts: it influences multiple disease outcomes, affects these disease outcomes through multiple risk factors, involves access to resources that can be used to avoid risks or to minimize the consequences of disease once it occur, and replacing intervening mechanisms allow the association between a cause and health to be reproduced over time. Continue reading “Combating Socioeconomic Inequalities”
As a senior in Sargent College studying health science and minoring in public health, I have been exposed to what the healthcare system is like in the United States many times and that it is a huge problem that essentially has no one right answer. In most of my courses where we have discussed the healthcare system, I am always left wondering whether there will be any possible solutions that will work in the future to fix the system and wonder why the system it is the way it is; in the end, I figured the healthcare system was consumer driven. Last year, I took a course called Organization and Delivery of Healthcare in the United States, which first exposed me to this alternate universe of medicine and healthcare. However, the class only discussed the problems with the healthcare system and went into how the system specifically works. Before signing up for Sociology of Healthcare, I was not aware that this course would be centered on the healthcare system and its problems. The reasons this class is interesting though is because of its focus on sociology, which gives a different angle to healthcare. I have been impressed with not only the fact that sociology of medicine can point out the problems, but that it challenges the theories and assumptions that have been already made and looks back on the history and trends of the US healthcare system. This class also allows the students to think of solutions and discuss how outcomes could be different if certain aspects of the system were altered. Continue reading “Process Reflection 1”
After reading Steven Brill’s article entitled “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us,” I was stunned, confused, and rather afraid of this so-called chargemaster. I have heard that each hospital can set their own prices internally, but I never knew there was a document and file that listed out all these prices. What I wanted to know is where are these prices coming from and who decided to set these prices in the past? (In the article it said that it used to be one list but now it is in a data base because the prices are always increasing). Also, why is it that every hospital’s prices are different and that the uninsured or those ineligible for Medicare technically have to pay the most of these ridiculously high costs? And if the chargemaster is the one that has all the set prices, why is it that the doctors just shrug off the problem as if it is no big deal and shouldn’t we be targeting and focusing on the chargemaster in hospitals as a way to make medical costs go down in this country then?
I found this article a couple days ago and decided to write my analysis the day after. The first thing I immediately noticed before even reading the article was the title change. A couple days ago, this article was entitled “Uninsured Numbers Drop as Poverty Rate Holds Steady,” but now it reads, “Health Care Gains, but Income Remains Stagnant, the White House Reports.” After reading through the article and the census data, I realized that the former title was misleading in that millions of Americans still remained uninsured and that the medium income remained the same. The revised title was a better representation of the data because many Americans were definitely getting health care access, which was the whole purpose of the Affordable Care Act, but their income levels were remaining the same. Continue reading “Increased Access to Healthcare but Stagnant Income Levels”