Sociology of Health and Illness

Humanities & Social Sciences
Course Code
SOCI 2280
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course reviews various topics pertinent to the social organization of health, illness and medicine. Through application of the sociological perspective to the Canadian context, important social issues relating to health outcomes are critically examined.
Course Content
  1. Introduction
    • Overview of course
    • A brief introduction to sociological approaches to health & illness
    • Social structure, social organization, sociological method
    • Sociological theories as applied to health & illness topics
  2. Sociology of Health and Illness
    • Social definition of health
    • Objective definition of disease & illness
    • Subjective definitions of illness
  3. Demography and Epidemiology
    • Understanding epidemiology
    • Health status of Canadian population
    • Mortality and life expectancy
  4. Inequalities in Health and Illness and Health Care Utilization
    • Gender, social class, race and ethnicity, and age 
  5. Help Seeking and Experiential Dimensions of Illness
    • Seeking medical help
    • Social support
    • Effects of stress
    • Social meanings & experiential aspects of disease
  6. Medicalization
    • Historical development of medicalization
    • Moral dimensions of medical diagnosis/labeling
    • Social and economic significance of medicalization
  7. Health Care Professionals
    • Social organization of health care: the professions
    • Contemporary issues
  8. Nursing
    • Contemporary issues in nursing
    • Education and work
  9. Medicare and Health Care Policy
    • Historical development of Medicare
    • Medicare in Canada, past, present & future prospects
  10. Issues in the Medical Care System
    • Racism
    • The drug industry
    • Ethics
    • Politics of disease
  11. Environment and Health
    • Environment/disease relationships
    • Balancing economy and health
Learning Activities

The course will employ a variety of instructional methods to accomplish its objectives, including some of the following:  lectures, audio visual materials (including overheads, films), small group discussions, oral presentations (discussion seminars) and specialist guest speakers.

Means of Assessment

Course evaluation is based on formative and summative elements and is in accord with the Douglas College student evaluation policy.

Specific components of evaluation will include some of the following: exams made up of multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and short essay questions; essay assignment; oral presentation; and participation in class discussions, student presentations, and group discussions.

Specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor at the beginning of the semester.


An example of one evaluation scheme would be:

Midterm exam  20%
Essay/written assignment           25%
Final exam  25%
Oral presentation  15%
Participation  15%
Total 100%
Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:

  1. Describe some of the ways in which social and cultural factors affect illness outcomes and health care practices.
  2. Describe and evaluate social structural conditions associated with health and illness issues.
  3. Critically evaluate the political and economic contexts relating to health and illness outcomes.
  4. Describe the roles of health care practitioners and the institutional context of health care delivery.
  5. Apply sociological perspective(s) to a range of health, illness, and medical issues.
  6. Critically evaluate significant social issues relating to the organization of health and illness as these pertain to contemporary Canadian society.
Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students:


Texts will be updated periodically. Typical examples are:


Singh, B. and Dickinson, H. (2009).  Health, Illness, and Health Care in Canada. Toronto: Nelson Education Canada.

Clarke, J. (2008).  Health, Illness, and Medicine in Canada.  Toronto: Oxford University Press Canada.



SOCI 1125 or SOCI 1145 or SOCI 1155 or old SOCI 135


No corequisite courses.


No equivalent courses.

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for SOCI 2280
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU SOCI 2280 (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU SA 218 (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU SOCI 2260 (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU SOCI 2XX (3)
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO SOCI 2nd (3)
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV SOCI 2nd (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC SOSC 2XX (3)
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV SOC 2XX (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC SOCI 2XX (1.5)
Vancouver Island University (VIU) VIU SOCI 2nd (3)

Course Offerings

Summer 2023