Sociology of health


Strengthen the analysis of social and psychosocial determinants of health & disease and its social representations or components;
Apprehend the etiological models of health and illness and social ecology of health;
Develop critical competencies for analytical appraisal of practices in health, social roles and policy developments;
Strengthen the analytical capacity to scrutinize social roles of main actors in health (professionals, patients);
Reinforce the analytical/synthesis skills of practices and policies in the field of health inequalities, the role of medicine, social medicalization and reproductive health
Reinforce skills to deal with social research methodology

General characterization





Responsible teacher

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Weekly - Available soon

Total - 10

Teaching language



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Antunes, R., Correia, T. Sociologia da saúde em Portugal, Contextos, temas e protagonistas. [Em linha] “Sociologia, Problemas e Práticas”, n.º 61, 2009, pp. 101-125. [Consult em 1/12/2014]. Disponível em

Fernandes, A. Pereira Miguel,, J. (edited by), (2009), Health and Migration in the European Union: Better Health for all in a inclusive society, Pro-Brook Ed., London

Weitz, R. - The Sociology of Health, Illness, and Health Care:A Critical Approach, 2006, 6th ed.  Stamford, Connecticut: Cengage Learning, 2012

Cabral, M. Villaverde (Coord.), (2002), Saúde e doença em Portugal, (capítulo I) Imprensa de Ciências Sociais

Saboga Nunes, L. Glossário de Sociologia da Saúde. Working Paper, Lisboa: Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, 2013.

Teaching method

The teaching methodology is varied and seeks to promote an active and participatory learning environment. Reading of fundamental texts is required and discussion of topics or exercises occurs regularly.
About half of the sessions will begin with a presentation by a teacher, followed by a discussion of topics related to the subject under examination where students are encouraged to intervene.
The other sessions will be more practical with problem solving tasks, presentation of results and discussion of implications for health systems management. The seminars consist of group work with the presence of a teacher, which develops in-depth discussion of the topics in the syllabus.
Assessment of commitment, work and participation (20%), made through observation of student participation and the presentation and discussion of topics and exercises in sessions and  in group activities (30%).
Individual evaluation (50%) is targeted with questions dealing with the topics taught.

Evaluation method

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Subject matter

The sociological perspective of health. Paradigms, concepts and sociological theories. Health and sociology or sociology of health. A sociology of medicine. Social representations of health, disease, sickness and illness. The body and the role of medicine and corporate medicalization;
Basic concepts. Health and disease and social representation of health and disease. The social construction of disease and its historical and cultural diversity. Society as a focus for scientific inquiry: health field concept and epistemological shift;
The demographic and epidemiological transition and health impacts. Reproductive health issues. Globalization and health. Modernity and postmodernity: crisis and relativity of values;
Health and population. Migration, health and minorities. Demographic aging, human longevity and health;
Biomedical and salutogenic models. An ecological perspective of health and the new public health. Social research methodologies applied to health and health services. The case of Health Literacy;
Social determinants of health. Health inequalities and discrimination (individuals/health services). Health equity. Health and lifestyles. Gender and health. Health, occupation and work. Pain and chronic illness: self-dysfunctions and group status;
Health institutions and social functions. Historical and sociological perspective of health institutions. Citizen/patient/health professional’s relationships. The patient as a study case; therapeutic contexts and social relationships. Health at work, school and other settings; work, out-of-work and the unemployed.
The health professions. Psychosocial risk factors (satisfaction and stress) in the health professions. Social models and sustainability of care: the new health sector.


Programs where the course is taught: