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SOC 4372 001 Health and Illness

Fall 2010 Tuesday/Thursday 11:30 – 12:45 p.m. Classroom: GC 1.208B

Dr. Richard Scotch Email: Phone: 972-883-2922
Office: GR3.510 Office Hours: Tuesday 10:30 – 11:20 a.m. and by appointment

Medicine is a social science, as much as it is a biological science. Who gets sick, what
they do about it, and what kind of treatment they receive are the result of an interplay of
behavioral, cultural, and social forces, as well biomedical factors. In this course we will
examine how behavioral, social, and cultural factors affect health and illness. We will
also address a number of ethics issues in health care decision making. This class will
involve lectures by the instructor, presentations on the readings by students, seminar
discussion, and occasional guest lectures and media presentations.

In this course, students will learn about 1) patterns and trends in health and illness
behavior; 2) social and demographic factors associated with health and illness, including
socio-economic status (or class), race/ethnicity, and culture; 3) the nature of American
health professions, and how health professionals interact with their patients; and 4)
ethical values and dilemmas found within the American health care system.

Anticipated course requirements tentatively include 1) 11-13 short quizzes covering

material from the assigned readings (40% of the final course grade – ten highest quiz
grades will count); 2) five 3-5 page take home essays (40% of the final course grade), and
3) a 6-8 page paper on an ethical issue in health care (20% of the final course grade).
While there is no formal grade for class participation, regular attendance and
participation in class discussion (or lack thereof) will be taken into account in
determining the final course grade.

Primary course readings will be assigned from the four texts listed below:

Laurie Abraham, Mama Might Be Better Off Dead: The Failure of Health Care in Urban
America, University of Chicago Press, 1994

Donald A. Barr, Health Disparities in the United States: Social Class, Race, Ethnicity, and
Health. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.

Anne Fadiman, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American
Doctors and the Clash of Two Cultures, Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux, 1998

Aaron Ridley, Beginning Bioethics: A Text with Integrated Readings, Bedford, 1997

Course Outline

The timetable for topics and reading assignments is subject to revisions announced in class.

August 19 Introduction to the Course

no assigned reading

August 24 – September 2 Health, Illness, and Behavior

Readings: Barr, Chapters 1 – 2; eLearning Material TBA
Essay One Due: September 9
Course Outline (continued)

September 7 – 16 Poverty, SES, and Health

Readings: Abraham, all; Barr, Chapters 3 - 4
Essay Two Due: September 23

September 21 – 30 Race, Ethnicity, and Health

Readings: Barr, Chapter 5 - 10
Essay Three Due: October 7

October 5 – 14 Culture, Health, and Health Care

Readings: Fadiman, all
Essay Four Due: October 21

October 19 – 26 Health Professionals and Patients

Readings: eLearning material TBA
Essay Five Due: November 4

October 28 - November 9 Bioethics: Theories, Principles, Methods

Readings: Ridley, Chapters 1 - 4

November 11 – December 2 Bioethics: Current Issues

Readings: Ridley, Chapters 5 - 10

November 18 No Class Meeting

December 9 No Class Meeting – Paper Due by 12 noon


The grading scale to be used in this class will be: A+ 97-100, A 93-96, A- 90-92, B+ 87-89,
B 83-86, B- 80-82, C+ 77-79, C 73-76, C- 70-72, D+ 67-69, D 63-66, D+ 60-62, F 59 or less.
Students are responsible for understanding and following all university rules for academic
honesty as stated in the university catalog; any possible violations will lead to immediate
referral to the Dean of Students for disciplinary proceedings.

In-Class Computer and Cell Phone Policy

Use of electronic equipment such as laptop/notebook computers and cell phones can be
distracting to the conduct of a seminar-style class such as this course. Accordingly, cell
phone use (including texting) will not be permitted in this course while class is in session
and computer use by students in class is subject to the discretion of the instructor.

Withdrawal from Class

The administration of this institution has set deadlines for withdrawal of any college-level
courses which are listed in the Academic Calendar for Fall 2010. It is the student's
responsibility to complete the proper paperwork for drops and withdrawals from any
class, and the instructor cannot drop or withdraw any student.
Incomplete Grade Policy

Incomplete grades will be granted only for work unavoidably missed at the semester’s
end and only if 70% of the course work has been completed. An incomplete grade must
be resolved no later than eight (8) weeks from the first day of the Spring 2011 semester.
If the required work to complete the course and to remove the incomplete grade is not
submitted by this deadline, the incomplete grade will be changed automatically to an F.

Student Conduct & Discipline

The University of Texas System and The University of Texas at Dallas have rules and
regulations for the orderly and efficient conduct of their business. It is the responsibility
of each student and each student organization to be knowledgeable about the rules and
regulations which govern student conduct and activities. The University of Texas at
Dallas administers student discipline within the procedures of recognized and established
due process. Procedures are defined and described in the Rules and Regulations, Board
of Regents, The University of Texas System, Part 1, Chapter VI, Section 3, and in Title V,
Rules on Student Services and Activities of the university’s Handbook of Operating
Procedures. A student at the university neither loses the rights nor escapes the
responsibilities of citizenship. He or she is expected to obey federal, state, and local laws
as well as the Regents’ Rules, university regulations, and administrative rules. Students
are subject to discipline for violating the standards of conduct whether such conduct takes
place on or off campus, or whether civil or criminal penalties are also imposed for such

Academic Integrity

The faculty expects from its students a high level of responsibility and academic honesty.
Because the value of an academic degree depends upon the absolute integrity of the work
done by the student for that degree, it is imperative that a student demonstrate a high
standard of individual honor in his or her scholastic work. Scholastic dishonesty
includes, but is not limited to, statements, acts or omissions related to applications for
enrollment or the award of a degree, and/or the submission as one’s own work or material
that is not one’s own. As a general rule, scholastic dishonesty involves one of the
following acts: cheating, plagiarism, collusion and/or falsifying academic records.
Students suspected of academic dishonesty are subject to disciplinary proceedings.
Plagiarism, especially from the web, from portions of papers for other classes, and from
any other source is unacceptable and will be dealt with under the university’s policy on
plagiarism (see general catalog for details).

Student Grievance Procedures

Procedures for student grievances are found in Title V, Rules on Student Services and
Activities, of the university’s Handbook of Operating Procedures. In attempting to
resolve any student grievance regarding grades, evaluations, or other fulfillments of
academic responsibility, it is the obligation of the student first to make a serious effort to
resolve the matter with the instructor.
Email Use

The instructor will only consider email from students as official only if it originates from
their UT Dallas student accounts.

Disability Services

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that colleges and universities make those
reasonable adjustments necessary to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability.
Students seeking such accommodations should first register with the UT Dallas Office of
Disability Services, and request any provisions through that Office. It is the student’s
responsibility to notify his or her professors of the need for such an accommodation.
Disability Services provides students with letters to present to faculty members to verify
that the student has a disability and needs accommodations. Individuals requiring special
accommodation should contact the professor after class or during office hours.

Religious Holy Days

The University of Texas at Dallas will excuse a student from class or other required
activities for the travel to and observance of a religious holy day for a religion whose
places of worship are exempt from property tax under Section 11.20, Tax Code, Texas
Code Annotated. The student is encouraged to notify the instructor or activity sponsor as
soon as possible regarding the absence, preferably in advance of the assignment. The
student, so excused, will be allowed to take the exam or complete the assignment within a
reasonable time after the absence: a period equal to the length of the absence, up to a
maximum of one week. A student who notifies the instructor and completes any missed
exam or assignment may not be penalized for the absence. A student who fails to
complete the exam or assignment within the prescribed period may receive a failing
grade for that exam or assignment. If a student or an instructor disagrees about the nature
of the absence [i.e., for the purpose of observing a religious holy day] or if there is similar
disagreement about whether the student has been given a reasonable time to complete any
missed assignments or examinations, either the student or the instructor may request a
ruling from the chief executive officer of the institution, or his or her designee.