The Division of Health, Health Policy, and Health Services is dedicated to the critical study of all aspects of health and health care delivery in the 21st century. Our concerns include but are not limited to:

1. The study of the social sources of disease and disability in industrial and developing societies. 

2. The study of the development and delivery of health-related care at the interactional as well as the institutional level. 

3. The study of social definitions of health and illness, both within and outside the health professions. 

4. The study of the experiences of health, illness, and disability from the perspectives of lay people (including patients) and community-based groups (including those committed to social justice in health care.)  

5. The comparative study of health care delivery systems and health care policies.  

6. The complexities arising from the interdependence of technological change, other social institutions, the environment, and health.

The Division of Health, Health Policy, and Health Services includes scholars and activists with diverse points of view. Recognizing the essential link between inequalities structured around race, class, gender, age, sexual orientation, and health, many members of the Division view social justice and justice in health as inseparable, with disparities in health firmly grounded in the socially structured inequalities that shape access to the resources necessary to maintain health. Justice in health, therefore, requires addressing underlying social and economic injustices. For many Division members, a just world in relation to health issues would regard the preservation and restoration of health as a basic human right. Justice in health would mean that all people would have adequate resources for preserving health and adequate access to health care regardless of gender, race, class, age, sexual orientation, disability or region. Justice in health would also mean that all people would have access to the informal and material resources that would enable them to maximize their control over all decisions that directly and indirectly affect their health. 

While Division members recognize there is no “perfect” health care system or models which could be replicated unmodified in the United States, most members would probably agree that many other “Western” industrialized societies are closer to realizing the conception of health care as a basic human right. On a smaller scale, many Division members may regard certain types of freestanding clinics and mutual help groups as sources for ideas for new models of health care. Perhaps the greatest obstacles to a fundamental reform of health care in the United States are: the sheer magnitude of social inequality; a health care system that is based on conceptualizing health as a commodity; a “medical” model of health that obscures and discounts the importance of the experience of patients and clients, and an increasingly fractionated and combative political system that frustrates meaningful change.

Division mission statement reviewed and minor edits submitted November 2018 by Meredith R. Bergey, Villanova University (Division Co-Chair, 2018-2020). Division mission statement was reviewed in December 2017 by Debora A. Paterniti, Sonoma State University, Health, Health Policy, and Health Services, Division Co-Chair, 2017-2019. Minor revisions were made. Updates respectfully submitted in 2013 by: Deborah A. Potter, University of Louisville (Co-chair 2012-2014); Erin E. Ruel, Georgia State University (Co-chair 2013-2015).  Updates respectfully submitted in 2011 by: Amy J. Schulz, University of Michigan (Co-Chair 2006-2008); Valerie Leiter, Simmons College (Co-Chair 2005-2007); Emily Ihara, George Mason University (Co-Chair 2007-2009); Debra Street, University at Buffalo (Co-Chair 2010-2011);  Elizabeth Gage, University at Buffalo (Co-Chair 2011-2012). Original statement drafted by Arthur L. Greil, Alfred University; Jeanne Calabro, Brandeis University; Jean Elson, Brandeis University


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