About Medical Sociology

Sociology is the scientific study of groups, organizations, institutions, relationships, and interpersonal behavior. The field of medical sociology uses a variety of theoretical and methodological tools to study health attitudes and behavior, professional work roles, and medical institutions. Medical sociologists assess the influence of cultures, organizations, and community contexts on individual beliefs and behaviors, and how all these factors together impact the physical and mental health of individuals and groups.

Medical sociologists hold teaching positions not only in sociology departments, but also in public health, medical, and nursing schools. In addition, they are employed as researchers and research directors in public and private health agencies and in health-related industries such as insurance, pharmaceutical, and hospital management companies.

While general sociology often tends to focus on basic research for which applications are not always obvious, medical sociology has an applied focus. Medical sociology often has immediate relevance for policy and health service delivery at the community, regional, societal, and global levels. The Department of Sociology at UAB has an established record of contributing to the health and welfare of Alabama's citizens. For example, UAB sociologists have conducted statewide health surveys of the homeless and the elderly, and they have coordinated and analyzed the annual statewide behavioral risk study (BRFSS) which is part of the nationwide CDC-sponsored behavioral risk factors study. In addition, we have strong ties to health delivery systems globally; research projects are ongoing in China, Japan, Germany, Russia, areas of Eastern Europe, and the Netherlands to explore differences in health behaviors. Students are actively engaged in many of these projects.