SOC 315: Health of Communities

Our focus will be on understanding the role of social factors (such as income, work environment, social cohesion, food, and transportation systems) in determining the health risks of individuals; considering the efficacy, appropriateness, and ethical ramifications of various public health interventions; and learning about the historical antecedents of the contemporary community health center model of care in response to the needs of vulnerable populations. We will explore the concept of social medicine, the importance of vocabulary and the complexity of any categorization of persons in discussions of health and illness, ethical issues related to in the generation and utilization of community-based research, the role of place in the variability of health risk, and the idea of just health care. Enrolled students will serve as volunteer research assistants (three-four hours/week), participating in the design and implementation of research projects developed by the Community Health Center of Middletown (CHC) that document and/or support their efforts to improve the health of our local community. Previous class projects have addressed topics such as youth empowerment efforts to reduce the risk of obesity, the use of tele-ophthalmology in primary care; the effectiveness of pharmacist intervention in reducing/eliminating health disparities in outcomes for African American patients, evaluation of early behavioral health intervention in school settings for children, assessment of treating opioid addiction in primary care settings; and assessment of the effectiveness of a model of group prenatal care.