Posted: March 28th, 2021

Sociological and Psychological Theories of Health

Illness is a hard fact of life. Everyone is bound to face some sort of illness during their lifetime and everyone must naturally cope with the sickness amongst their family and friends. Both quantity and quality of the social relationships affect the health behavior including the mental health and physical health. As such, sociology and psychology are known to share numerous common interests and field of study in the public health sector. The sociologists have played a pivotal role in establishing an association between the social relationships and the outcomes of health. They have also identified explanations for this association illustrated with examples and evidences and have also studied the social variation of gender and race at the population level (Umberson and Montez, 2010).

On the other hand, human behavior is the utmost concern for the psychologists. Psychology is mainly concerned with the reasons that make people behave as they do. Psychologists deeply study human characteristics like emotion, learning, intelligence, heredity, personality development and also other factors like environment, differences that exist between individuals, the nature and how individuals influence certain groups and affect human health behavior.

Sociology plans a vital role in understanding various issues related to the health. Sociologists analyse how the social forces may promote health and sickness and also they study the reasons behind higher suffering of some social groups over the others. To illustrate this, some researchers had observed how the working conditions of various factories in US influence the health of poorer groups of Americans as compared to the wealthier Americans. It was seen that the poor class suffered more often from certain types of cancer than the wealthier Americans. Sociologists can also study the influence of historical changes in social life on the illness patterns. For example, to understand the reason behind the increase in rate of breast cancer in women, the researchers have studied role of environmental pollution, increased consumption of meat in America and also the possibility of the changing social roles of women in the society.

Instead of studying the illnesses in a broad pattern, sociologists may also study the patterns of patients who live with illnesses on a daily basis. In such cases, they explore and understand the effect of illness on the individuals’ sense of identity, their relationship with the relatives and friends or also to understand their ideas on different factors that may cause an illness or disease. Additionally, the sociologists may also study the experiences of various physicians and health care providers. This type of a study may include the analysis of how the status and power of physicians has changed over a period of time. Other examples include the study of the effect of power on the interactions between doctors and nurses. Some sociologists have also examined the interactions between the patients and health care workers which includes to understand factors like how the doctors maintain a control or authority while having discussions with the patients or whether doctors treat patients of both genders equally (Strohschein and Weitz, 2014).

Sociologists have the potential to analyse the whole health care system. They have examined the development of health care systems along with the various strengths and weaknesses of different systems across the globe. Apart from identifying the loopholes in various systems, they have also analysed how these systems could be improved. For example, sociologists analyse the role of health insurance companies and also broader topics like the reason behind European countries doing better at providing health care as compared to the United States and whether European policies for health care can be adopted in the United States.

An inverse relationship exists between the socioeconomic status and the components of an unhealthy lifestyle like physical inactivity, tobacco use and poor nutrition. Socio economic status affects the motivation for healthy behavior. The lower socio economic status groups have fewer number of reasons to forgo short term unhealthy pleasures for a long term gain in health and longevity. All socio economic status groups may have a similar health behavior desire but the low socio economic status groups have a hard time in realizing their goals. The comparison of the socio economic status groups also reflects on the consumption of health care. The study of various historical trends help to understand the changes in the mechanisms that associate socio economic status groups to the health behaviors and also the phenomenon of the reversals in relationship between socio economic status groups and various health behaviors (Pampel and Krueger et al., 2010).

Health psychology concerns with the lifestyle and individual behavior which reflects on the person’s physical being. The main aim of the psychologists is health enhancement, treatment of a disease and its prevention, identification of risk factors associated with health, betterment of healthcare systems and analyzing the public opinion with respect to health. Psychologists apply their principles in various health areas like managing stress, controlling cholesterol, stopping smoking and tobacco intake as well as encourage healthy practices like exercise and regular health checkups. Psychologists identify the various conditions that influence health and also take major steps to modify various behavioral factors which involve psychological and physiological rehabilitation. The health psychology interacts with both sociology and biology to achieve disease and health related outcomes.

The work of health psychologist includes conducting research, teaching as well as providing services to various individuals/ private or public companies. They may provide substitutes or alternatives of pharmacological therapy. For example, the analgesic medication for headache may be substituted by biofeedback. They may also conduct behavioral interventions to treat physical illnesses like chronic pain. Some clinical psychologists could assess by using neuropsychological treatment for patients trying to cope from serious illnesses(Brannon and Feist et al., 2000).

There are different research methods used by psychologists to understand health behaviors. Correlational studies are used to identify and predict the various factors which are related to a specific disease. Another method used is the cross sectional studies which help to compare people of different age groups. Longitudinal studies give information on the stability of the status of health or any other characteristics that need to be determined during the span of a certain period of time. Longitudinal studies are expensive and time consuming as compared to the cross sectional studies but they yield more useful results. The major disadvantage of correlational studies, longitudinal studies and cross sectional design is that none of them can be used to determine causality. There are times when psychologists require information to study the influence of one variable on the other. In such cases, they need to design special experiments having a control group and experimental group.

The growing awareness that psychosocial stress as well as lifestyle factors contribute to morbidity and mortality from cancer, cardiovascular diseases and other injuries in the developed countries lead to the development of heath psychology. Health psychology is a field which uses psychological knowledge in order to maintain health and prevent any sort of illnesses. Social psychology or sociology also contributed significantly since lifestyles are also known to modify health, attitudes and beliefs. social psychological techniques of the change in attitude and behavior was required to bring about large scale improvement in lifestyles by relying on the methods of mass communication. Recently, the interest of the sociologist and psychologist have increased in the study of stress due to numerous stressful life events taking place these days ( for example, bereavement and divorces) which involves the breaking up of social relationships. The health impact depends greatly on these stressful events as well as on the ability of the individuals to cope up with such incidences. The impact of stress also affects health by influencing the brain response towards physiological processes where individuals may become dependent health impairing activities like alcohol/ drug abuse and smoking. Therefore, social factors determine the stress-health relationships as well as the stressful events of life. Another important contributions made by the sociologist and psychologist is in the field of analysis and improvement of various healthcare systems. They influenced important subjects like patient compliance and anxiety related to medical procedures and understanding physician-patient relationship (Stroebe, 2011).

Over the years, sociology and psychology have been well established as being part of the multi disciplinary health system. They are increasingly acquiring new roles and partnerships with other fields like social policy and anthropology in order to do a more intense study of the public health behavior and their related issues. The focus of sociologists and psychologists is on the importance of health education and promotion which is based on the behavioral change techniques with an aim to reduce risk due to change in lifestyle and for management of chronic diseases.


Brannon, L., Feist, J. and Brannon, L. 2000.Study guide for health psychology: an introduction to behavior and health, fourth edition. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth.

Brym, R. J. and Lie, J. 2010.Sociology. Belmont, California: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

Pampel, F. C., Krueger, P. M. and Denney, J. T. 2010. Socioeconomic disparities in health behaviors.Annual review of sociology, 36 p. 349.

Sartain, A. Q., North, A. J., Strange, J. R. and Chapman, H. M. 1958. Psychology: Understanding human behavior.McGraw-Hill Book Company.

Stroebe, W. 2011.Social psychology and health. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Strohschein, L. and Weitz, R. 2014.The sociology of health, illness, and health care in Canada. Toronto, ON: Nelson Education.

Umberson, D. and Montez, J. K. 2010. Social relationships and health A flashpoint for health policy.Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 51 (1 suppl), pp. 54–66.


Order for this Paper or Similar Assignment Writing Help

Fill a form in 3 easy steps - less than 5 mins.

Why choose us

You Want Best Quality and That’s our Focus

Top Essay Writers

We carefully choose the most exceptional writers to become part of our team, each with specialized knowledge in particular subject areas and a background in academic writing.

Affordable Prices

Our priority is to provide you with the most talented writers at an affordable cost. We are proud to offer the lowest possible pricing without compromising the quality of our services. Our costs are fair and competitive in comparison to other writing services in the industry.

100% Plagiarism-Free

The service guarantees that all our products are 100% original and plagiarism-free. To ensure this, we thoroughly scan every final draft using advanced plagiarism detection software before releasing it to be delivered to our valued customers. You can trust us to provide you with authentic and high-quality content.

How it works

When you decide to place an order with Nursing Assignment Answers, here is what happens:

Complete the Order Form

You will complete our order form, filling in all of the fields and giving us as much detail as possible.

Assignment of Writer

We analyze your order and match it with a writer who has the unique qualifications to complete it, and he begins from scratch.

Order in Production and Delivered

You and your writer communicate directly during the process, and, once you receive the final draft, you either approve it or ask for revisions.

Giving us Feedback (and other options)

We want to know how your experience went. You can read other clients’ testimonials too. And among many options, you can choose a favorite writer.