The Role of Sociology in Health Affairs


Health sociology is the study of the link between society and well-being. Societal norms and trends are examined for their effects on chronic illness numbers and mortality rates. The prevailing relationship investigated when embarking on a health sociology study is the professional-patient link and how vital the role of healthcare professionals in society is.

According to leading sociologists, ill-health is not purely a physiological state as it is influenced heavily by societal factors.

The difference between research and sociology

Medical research aims to collect data on illnesses, whereas the sociology of health seeks to study the spread of health conditions and what causes it. Taking the current example of the coronavirus pandemic, researchers deal with the number of infections.

However, sociologists are studying its spread in communities and how it is influenced by factors such as ethnicity, socio-economic circumstances, and traditional beliefs and practices. If you are also studying sociology or any related area, you must know about It’s a free online resource trusted by students from all parts of the world for its free essays on every subject. The wide variety of sociology topics on EduZaurus will prove to be valuable in your studies.

The value of health sociology

While many people might question the relevance of health sociology, its proponents believe it is essential. The link between sociology and a student’s mind gives them critical insight into their career of choice, with the medical professional being no exception.

Without understanding the sociology behind the spread of a disease or condition, medical professionals are hard-pressed to implement preventative measures and create effective treatment programs.

For these workers, a study of the overall health of those in immediate proximity is vital as this is where they source their patient base. Understanding the prevalence of medical conditions in different ethnic and socio-economic groups enables them to understand underlying causes and how these issues affect mortality rates.

A study of trends

It stands to reason that developed and developing countries would vary when it comes to the sociology of health. However, even within the first world, trends differ between countries with universal healthcare and those that do not.

For example, the USA has an outstanding healthcare system, but it is accessible only at a price. In contrast, Canadians can seek similar medical services regardless of their ability to pay for it. Despite cutting edge technology, denial of access to care for those families in middle and low-income brackets means that some diseases and conditions are more prevalent in these groups.

Historical factors, which may go back many generations, have left ethnic groups trapped in the poverty cycle. The lines along which these groups are drawn tend to focus on religion and ethnicity. For others, past and present conflict severely impact their health status.

In developing countries, alternative medical practices are more common as their inhabitants still believe in traditional healers and medicines. Obesity rates in these countries are also lower, while malnutrition is more common. The opposite applies to developed economies. Some first world countries buck this trend due to their traditional diet, such as Mediterranean countries in Europe.

Communicable diseases are a common feature in third-world countries because of overcrowding, poor sanitation, malnutrition, and a lack of healthcare access.

There is an ideological resistance to using long-term medication or prolonging the wait to seek medical care in some cultures, thereby allowing a condition to worsen. This is prevalent in African culture. In other groups, people are prone to self-diagnosis instead of approaching a medical professional for their advice.

Universal trends

Some factors that cause illness and death that exist around the world. Among them are alcohol abuse and smoking, which seem to permeate all societies to a certain extent. Lung cancer and liver failure occur in many areas. However, they are found in higher ratios in wealthier countries, where people have more disposable income to spend on alcohol and cigarettes.

The increased consumption of processed foods has led to global increases in heart conditions, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. These are medical issues that occurred only infrequently in some areas, but the incidences are rising.


A failure to consider the sociology of wellness can severely hamper medical practitioners’ ability to treat their patients successfully. The current pandemic has proven that certain groups, based primarily on ethnicity and socio-economic status, are more vulnerable to both infection and death, even in countries that provide excellent healthcare. There are known reasons for this, but an ongoing study will uncover more and identify the best ways to eliminate it.

Author’s Bio:

Robert Everett works as a software developer for a tech company that mainly caters to the needs of health and pharma sector.