The field of social medicine seeks to:
- understand how social and economic conditions impact health, disease and the practice of medicine and
- foster conditions in which this understanding can lead to a healthier society.
This type of study began formally in the early 19th century. 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.
More specifically, Farmer et al. (2006) state that "Biosocial understandings of medical phenomena [such as the social determinants of health] are urgently needed ". Paul Farmer's view is that modern medicine is focused at the molecular level, and there is a "gap" between social analysis and everyday clinical practices. Moreover, Farmer, Nizeye, Stulac and Keshavjee (2006) view social medicine with increasing importance as scientific inquiry is increasingly "desocialized". The latter refers to "...a tendency to ask only biological question about what are in fact biosocial phenomena ".
See also 
- social epidemiology
- social psychology
- socialized medicine
- Society for Social Medicine
- medical sociology
- Social determinants of health in poverty
Departments of Social Medicine:
Articles discussing social medicine:
- (Farmer et al., 2006, Structural Violence and Clinical Medicine, p.1686)
- Farmer, Paul E., Bruce Nizeye, Sara Stulac, and Salmaan Keshavjee. 2006. Structural Violence and Clinical Medicine. PLoS Medicine, 1686-1691
- Social Medicine: http://journals.sfu.ca/socialmedicine/index.php/socialmedicine/index
- Social Medicine Portal: http://www.socialmedicine.org/
- Porter, D. (2006) "How Did Social Medicine Evolve, and Where Is It Heading?" PLoS Med 3(10): e399. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030399. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030399
- Matthew R. Anderson, Lanny Smith, and Victor W. Sidel. What is Social Medicine? Monthly Review: 56(8). http://www.monthlyreview.org/0105anderson.htm
- 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. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030445 and http://collections.plos.org/plosmedicine/socialmedicine-2006.php