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Health Inequality
An Introduction to Concepts, Theories and Methods


This book provides all you ever wanted to know about health inequality but did not dare to ask. We know from many studies that there are large differences in life expectancy between the most privileged and the most disadvantaged social groups in industrial societies. But we need to look beyond the figures to the social and biological processes that underlie them in order to understand why this is so. This book provides a key to understanding the four most widely accepted theories of what lies behind inequality in healthcare: behavioural, psychosocial, material and life-course approaches.

The methods most commonly employed by health inequality researchers are carefully explained in simple terms in a way that enables readers to judge for themselves how good the evidence is for each theory. It makes concepts and methods more widely available which can be applied to any area of study that seeks to take account of social and biological factors.

Health Inequality will be essential reading for students taking courses in the sociology of health and illness, social policy and welfare, health sciences, public health and epidemiology and all those interested in understanding the consequences of social inequality for health.

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  • January 2004
  • 224 pages
  • 160 x 237 mm / 6 x 9 in
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Table of Contents


1. What is Health Inequality.

2. Measuring Socio-Economic Position.

3. Figuring Out Health Inequality.

4. Models of Aetiological Pathways I: Behavioural and ‘Cultural’ Explanations.

5. Models of Aetiological Pathways II: The Psychosocial Model.

6. Models of Aetiological Pathways III: The Materialist Model.

7. Models of Aetiological Pathways IV: The Life Course Approach.

8. Social Ecology.

9. Understanding Gender Inequality in Health.

10. Ethnic Inequalities in Health.

11. Health Inequality and Social Policy

About the Author
Mel Bartley is a Professor of Medical Sociology, International Centre for Health and Society, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University College London.
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"Mel Bartley's enquiry into health inequalities is admirably thorough and balanced ... What is particularly refreshing is the way in which the different implications for practical action of accepting different models of causation are highlighted ... [An] excellent book."

Health Service Journal

"This book makes an original and major contribution to the body of knowledge on the complex theories of inequalities in health. It is well written and explained in simple terms that encourage the reader to evaluate the original research for themselves."

Australian Social Work

"This book should become essential reading for anyone genuinely interested in understanding health inequalities."

International Journal of Epidemiology

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