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Social medicine

The field of Social Medicine seeks to: (1) understand how social and economic conditions impact health, disease and the practice of medicine and (2) foster conditions in which this understanding can lead to a healthier society.

This type of study began formally in the early 1800's. The Industrial Revolution and the subsequent increase in poverty and disease among workers raised concerns about the effect of social processes on the health of the poor.

Prominent figures in the history of social medicine include Rudolf Virchow, Salvador Allende, and more recently Paul Farmer and Jim Kim.


  • Social Medicine:
  • Social Medicine Portal:
  • Porter, D. (2006) "How Did Social Medicine Evolve, and Where Is It Heading?" PLoS Med 3(10): e399. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030399.
  • Matthew R. Anderson, Lanny Smith, and Victor W. Sidel. What is Social Medicine? Monthly Review: 56(8).
  • King NMP, Strauss RP, Churchill LR, Estroff SE, Henderson GE, et al. editors (2005) Patients, doctors, and illness. Volume I: The social medicine reader 2nd edition Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Henderson GE, Estroff SE, Churchill LR, King NMP, Oberlander J, et al. editors (2005) Social and cultural contributions to health, difference, and inequality. Volume II: The social medicine reader 2nd edition Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Oberlander J, Churchill LR, Estroff SE, Henderson GE, King NMP, et al. editors (2005) Health policy, markets, and medicine. Volume III: The social medicine reader 2nd edition Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Porter D, Porter R (1988) What was social medicine? An historiographical essay. J Hist Sociol 1: 90–106.
  • The PLoS Medicine Editors, Stonington S, Holmes SM (2006) Social medicine in the twenty-first century. PLoS Med 3(10): e445. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0030445. and


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