Medical Sociology

photo of Associate Professor Liz Eckerman
Associate Professor Liz Eckerman

It has become increasingly evident in research on health outcomes that although people may be defined as objectively healthy (they are not dead and have no physical symptoms), currently used indicators of health (mortality and morbidity rates) do not accurately reflect people's sense of well being. High rates of suicide among 'healthy' young males, eating disorders amongst young females and heroin abuse in young people generally, points to the reality of people feeling disaffected with the way the world is organised. Studies on quality of life have opened up new ways of understanding such social problems and new strategies for dealing with them.

Quality of Life scales (QOLs) tend to adopt a more contextual approach to measuring health. They acknowledge the importance of individuals' subjective experiences of health and include the dimensions of social and emotional wellbeing thus rendering them more reflective of WHO's official definition of health. Thus in conducting research on the impact of health interventions or social change, quality of life (rather than just quantity of life) has become an essential concept.

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Quality of Life Perspectives