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Medical sociology is the study of individual and group behaviors with respect to health and illness. Thus "medical" is a little simplistic, as the focus is not only on medical professionals or their behaviours, but also focuses on human behavioural responses to health and illness.Medical sociology is concerned with individual and group responses aimed at assessing well-being, maintaining health, acting upon real or perceived illness, interacting with health care systems, and maximising health in the face of physiologic or functional derangement. It also analyses the impact of the psychological conditions resulting from our environment on our health. Talcott Parsons is often considered the father of medical sociology because of his description of the 'Sick Role'. This describes the difference between the role of a sick person as opposed to the 'Social Role' of a healthy person. He defines the sick role as defining the motivation of the patient. Curiously enough, Parsons makes no mention of the role of the doctor or other medical institutions. The sick role comprises four aspects: (1) exemption from normal social role responsibilities, (2) the privilege of not being held responsible for being sick, (3) the desire to get better and (4) the obligation to find proper help and follow that advice.The field of medical sociology is usually taught as part of a wider sociology, clinical psychology or health studies degree course, or on dedicated Master's degree courses where it is sometimes combined with the study of medical ethics/bioethics.In the UK, institutions which run Masters degree courses in Medical Sociology include the University of Nottingham and the University of London at Royal Holloway and Goldsmiths College.
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