Sociology of health examines the interaction between society and health. It targets to identify the ways social life has an impact of morbidity and mortality rates (Timmermans, Stefan & Steven Haas 2008). The term health is complex and difficult to define, as it varies between individuals. What individuals define as health is influenced by a number of factors such as; age, culture, gender and social class (Porter, 1999).
The World Health Organization has defined health as “A complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence if disease of infirmity. ” The sociology of health is fundamental to the nursing practice as it allows nurses as care givers to the ill, to have a better understanding, knowledge and respect for patients and their individuality. This informative piece intends to gain you a better understanding of what sociology of nursing is and how it is applicable to the nursing practice.
The sociology of health focuses on health and illness in relation to the surroundings of an individual such as, location (rural and remote or metropolitan), family, indigenous and non indigenous, environment, employment, cultural context and beliefs. The sociology of health is not so concerned about health professional and patient relationship and unlike the biomedical model of health pays very little attention to the diagnosis, treatment and cure of illness and disease.
Instead it targets the causes of disease and illness in society such as what it is about a group in society that could be putting it more at risk to a particular disease. Health promotion and prevention of the disease or illness are the key aspects of the sociology of health. For example a major disease found in a population, the disease is examined and compared based on culture, traditional medicine and economics specific to each region. HIV/AIDS is present in many regions but it is only problematic in certain areas and in some areas it has only affected a small percentage of the populations.
Sociological factors can be used to identify reasons as to why these differences occur (World Health Organization 2007). Medicine is still required but the sociology of health relies more on self help and community activity. The sociology of health is often the preferred method for mental health issues because it takes considers an individual’s social state such as; an individual’s position in their community, poverty and housing. Nursing is a profession which focuses on assisting individuals, families and communities in maintaining and recovering optimal health.