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November 20, 1967

An Introduction to Social Medicine

JAMA. 1967;202(8):849. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03130210223050

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It is a rare pleasure when physicians have the opportunity to reflect upon their relative position in society and upon medicine's ability to alter the trends of nature. Social medicine, as a medical speciality, is not common in this country. It encompasses the field of social science, economics, and public health. The combination of these fields into "Social Medicine" affords refreshing approach to medicine from an unfamiliar viewpoint. Each of these subjects is sufficiently broad to involve an academic lifetime. Thus, this diffuse approach is by its very nature limiting.

While the authors obviously intend this to be a mere introduction to a rather broad field, the discussions of nutrition, environmental health, atmospheric pollution, and immunology are but superficially handled. The authors clearly define and assess the validity of screening tests. Acknowledging the significance of immunization and antibiotics in contributing to improved longevity, they nevertheless demonstrate the disconcerting fact that