social medicine

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A term that came into vogue in the United Kingdom with the appointment of a distinguished clinician not identified with public health, John Ryle (1889–1950), as the first professor of social medicine at Oxford University in 1938. Ryle's concept of social medicine was of medical practice that treated the sick by ameliorating adverse social conditions, such as poverty and unemployment, that contributed to or caused their illnesses. Ryle combined this approach with scientific study of the relationship of disease to social conditions and stimulated the postwar rise of epidemiologically based public health science that was called “social medicine” in most British universities until the term became confused with socialized medicine and acquired negative associations. See also community medicine.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.

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