Objectives: To analyze production in the social sciences, with a focus on knowledge and social action concerning health.
Methodology: Historical analysis and interpretation.
Results: The article provides an historical analysis of the integration of the social sciences and the study of health, and of the relationship between them and other disciplines traditionally tied to the field of health -- medicine and epidemiology in particular. The author also analyzes the objectives, themes, and theoretical approaches that lead work in the field of health to be considered scientific. The author tries to demonstrate that an interdisciplinary field of study drawing upon the social sciences and health was formed only during the last three decades, despite a three-century history of social scientific output in the area of health.
The formation of an interdisciplinary field of healthcare studies is related to the growing importance of illness in present-day society and the enormous problems to be addressed in the relationship between knowledge about health and healthcare policies.
Conclusions: Important qualitative and quantitative social science production, focused on the issue of health (including what is termed community health), has expanded rapidly during the 1990s..
Copyright 2007 University of New Mexico