Sociology for Nurses: Key Issues and Learning Outcomes

1. What is Sociology?
2. Why Should Nurses Study Sociology?
3. What is Health?
4. Nursing as an Occupation?
5. Researching Health
6. Gender
7. The Family, Health and Caring
8. Age and Ageing
9. Long Term Illness and Conditions
10. Disability
11. Social Class and Health
12. Race and Ethnicity
13. Policy in Health
14. Managing in Health Care
15. Social Care
16. Global Health

1. What is Sociology?

Key Issues in the Chapter
• The nature of sociological inquiry.
• Sociology, ‘common sense’ and lay reasoning.
• The role of sociology in society and in nursing.
• An introduction to sociological theory.
• Theorizing mental health and illness.

By the end of this Chapter you should be able to:
Understand the nature of sociological inquiry.
Recognize the distinction between sociology, ‘common sense’ and lay reasoning.
Engage in some of the debates concerning the role of sociology within society and nursing.
Discuss different sociological theories.
Apply sociological theories to the issue of mental health and illness.

2. Why Should Nurses Study Sociology?

Key Issues in the Chapter
• The difference between sociology in nursing and sociology of nursing.
• The value of developing sociological skills.
• Using sociological skills in nursing practice.
• The contribution of sociology to nursing knowledge.
• The sociology of diabetes.

By the end of this Chapter you should be able to:
Discuss the reasons why nurses should study sociology.
Understand the distinction between sociology of nursing and sociology in nursing.
Understand the value of sociological skills.
Discuss the role of sociological knowledge within nursing practice.
Think about diabetes sociologically.

3. What is Health?

Key Issues in the Chapter:
• Defining health.
• Modes of health.
• Social influences on health and disease.
• Experiences of illness, sickness and disease.
• Nursing, health and holism.

By the end of this Chapter you should be able to:
Review official and lay definitions of health.
Compare and contrast the biomedical and social roles of health.
Give an account of how health and disease are influenced by social factors.
Understand illness behaviour, sickness and stigma.
Evaluate a holistic approach to nursing practice.

4. Nursing as an Occupation

Key Issues in the Chapter:
• The origins of nursing.
• Socialization into nursing.
• Nursing within the health division of labour.
• Caring.
• Nurse education.

By the end of this Chapter you should be able to:
Understand the relationship between the history of nursing and its present organization.
Identify mechanisms by which nurses internalize the values of the occupation.
Discuss nursing’s place within the health division of labour.
Understand the role of education in the preparation of nurses.
Discuss debates around the caring role of nursing.

5. Researching Health

Key Issues in the Chapter:
• Sociological research methods.
• The research process.
• Quantitative research methods.
• Qualitative research methods.

By the end of this Chapter you should be able to:
Distinguish between quantitative and qualitative research.
Recognize which research method is suited to which method of data collection.
Be familiar with key limitations and strengths on specific methods.
Apply the principles of research to the case of coronary heart disease.

6. Gender

Key Issues in the Chapter:
• Definitional and historical issues.
• The significance of sex and gender in relation to health and illness.
• The gendered experience of health care.
• The relationship between gender and other ‘measures’ of stratification.

By the end of this Chapter you should be able to:
Explain how historical definitions and expectations of men and women affect contemporary definitions and experiences.
Explain how historical views on the relationship between gender and health affect contemporary views and experiences.
Understand the significance of sex and gender for patterns of health and illness.
Explain the relationship between gender roles, masculinity and femininity, and health and illness.
Recognize the need to take a gendered perspective, whilst acknowledging that other differences are also relevant.

7. The Family, Health and Caring

Key Issues in the Chapter:
• The concept of the family.
• Sociological perspectives on the family.
• Health and the family.
• The family and caring.

By the end of this Chapter you should be able to:
Understand the nuclear family and family diversity.
Discuss sociological perspectives on the family.
Explore the link between family life, health, illness and caring.
Recognize the need to challenge common-sense ideas around the family.

8. Age and Ageing

Key Issues in the Chapter:
• The relevance of age and ageing to all nurses.
• Definitions of age.
• The social construction of age.
• Theoretical perspectives of age and ageing.
• Ageism, diversity, discrimination and anti-ageist nursing practice.

By the end of this Chapter you should be able to:
Explore your own stereotypes of age.
Consider the ways in which age is constructed in contemporary Western societies.
Consider the impact of ageing on nursing practice.
Develop your own guidelines to ensure your practice is anti-ageist.
Reconsider the relevance of age for nurses.

9. Long Term Illness and Conditions

Key Issues in the Chapter:
• Sociological theories of chronic illness/long-term conditions.
• Interpretive and narrative accounts of long-term conditions.
• Long-term pain.
• Adherence to medical treatment.
• The role of nursing in long-term conditions.

By the end of this Chapter you should be able to:
Understand different sociological theories and concepts in relation to long-term conditions.
Explore the experience of long-term conditions.
Understand the implications of living with long-term pain.
Discuss issues around compliance, adherence and concordance with medical advice.
Consider the role of the nurse in assisting people to live with long-term conditions.

10. Disabilty

Key Issues in the Chapter:
• Definitions of disability.
• Disability and health inequality.
• Sociological approaches to disability.
• Models of disability.
• Disability and the role of nurses.

By the end of this Chapter you should be able to:
Understand different approaches to defining disability.
Recognize disabled people encounter barriers within society that lead to significant disadvantage.
Identify barriers encountered by disabled people in obtaining good health care.
Discuss medical, social and interactional models of disability and their relevance to nursing practice.
Understand the significance of the social model of disability and the role of the disability movement in campaigning for change.

11. Social Class and Health

Key Issues in the Chapter:
• A historical overview of the relationship between class and health.
• Class and the measurement of socioeconomic difference.
• The extent and causes of health inequalities.
• The policies adopted to tackle health inequalities.
• Contemporary nursing, class and health.

By the end of this Chapter you should be able to:
Map the history of the relationship between class and health.
Explain the concepts of class and understand the measurement of socioeconomic difference.
Discuss the evidence relating to class inequalities in health.
Explore some of the policies used to tackle health inequalities.
Understand the significance of class and health for nursing practice.

12. Race and Ethnicity

Key Issues in the Chapter:
• Concepts of race and ethnicity.
• Ethnicity and health inequalities.
• Ethnicity and health.
• Implications for nursing.

By the end of this Chapter you should be able to:
Discuss concepts of race, ethnicity and culture.
Describe ethnic differences in health status and some of the possible reasons for them.
Explain the concept of cultural competence and why it is important in nursing.

13. Policy in Health

Key Issues in the Chapter:
• Health policy and the nurse.
• The NHS.
• Influences on health policy.
• Policy and the organization of health care.

By the end of this Chapter you should be able to:
Understand how political decisions affect the organization and management of the health system, as well as approaches to care.
Identify the main differences between the health systems in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Appreciate how nursing practice is affected by policy changes.

14. Managing in Health Care

Key Issues in the Chapter:
• What is management?
• The contribution of sociology to our understanding of the management and organization of health care.
• The importance of management in the role of the nurse.
• The involvement of nurses in the organization and management of health care.

By the end of this Chapter you should be able to:
Summarize the main phases in the development of the organization of the National Health Service.
Describe the features of hospital organization that characterize it as a bureaucracy.
Examine critically the negotiated order of health-care organization.
Discuss the challenges of health-care organization.
Evaluate critically the role of the nurse as a manager.

15. Social Care

Key Issues in the Chapter:
• What is social care, who is eligible and how is it funded?
• Personalization and personal budgets.
• Integration of health and social care services.
• Dementia.

By the end of this Chapter you should be able to:
Understand the historic reasons for the separation of health and social care.
Recognize why it remains difficult to integrate health and social care services.
Identify the key elements of the personalization agenda and the extent to which it is achieving its goals.
Outline the challenges which the growing incidence of dementia is creating for health and social care services.

16. Global Health

Key Issues in the Chapter:
• Global patterns of health and disease.
• Globalization, nursing and health.
• Reproductive and sexual health in a global context.
• Nursing and migration.

By the end of this Chapter you should be able to:
Explain general patterns of health and disease across the world.
Define and understand the concept of globalization as it applies to health and nursing.
Discuss why reproduction and sexuality are important to global health.
Discuss the significance of the global context for the nursing workforce.