[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
Sept 25, 1967


JAMA. 1967;201(13):1041-1042. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130130067018

All of us belong simultaneously to many different groups which may conflict one with the other. We are physicians; we are concerned with research and with medical care and with medical standards; we are concerned with education; we are taxpayers; we are citizens; we are parents; we want to promote community health; and so on. The study of groups such as these and their interactions and conflicts constitute part of the discipline we call sociology. And so far as this discipline impinges on medicine (in its broadest sense), we can designate it as the social aspect of medicine, or medical sociology.

The social history of medicine analyzes the way that physicians have interacted with other social groups, and it includes, as well, the strains that have appeared within the medical profession itself. The dean of social historians of medicine is Richard Harrison Shryock, whose most popular book, The Development of