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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Michele Issel, PhD, RN (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Description: This is a compilation of enthralling, gentle, and humanistic stories that illuminate sensitive and complex sociocultural issues that pervade the delivery of healthcare.
Purpose: Although the editors do not explicitly state a purpose, they imply that it is to challenge standard ways of thinking.
Audience: This book, although written for medical students, will be of interest to all health care professionals.
Features: Each of the five parts contains newly written chapters by highly regarded scholars including, among others, Irving Zola, Victor Fuchs, and Uwe Reinhart. These new scholarly works are complemented with relevant literary works by authors ranging from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to William Carlos Williams. At the beginning of each part, the editors offer insights and syntheses of the chapters that follow. Chapters in part one focus on culture as it relates to the experience of illness, with attention to the nature of culture, health and illness, narratives of illness, and experiences of chronic illness and disability. Part two addresses the influence of social factors on health and illness, with chapters on class, ethnicity, gender, and age. The culture of medicine is the theme for part three, with chapters on socialization of physicians, the social context of medical practice, and physician-patient relationships. Chapters in part four articulate ethical issues such as provider-patient relationships, conflicts of interest, and treatment choices. In part five, financing of health care is addressed in chapters about medical care financing, rationing healthcare, and managed care.
Assessment: This book is a fresh approach in the enduring quest to balance biological knowledge with social knowledge in the practice of medicine and healthcare delivery.