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March 21, 1966

Doctors and the State: The British Medical Profession and Government Action in Public Health, 1870-1912

JAMA. 1966;195(12):1077. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100120145064

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Dr. Brand, who received her PhD degree in economic history and holds an administrative post in the National Institutes of Health, focuses sharply on the period between 1870 and 1912, so important in the history of public health. This period witnessed an extensive reconstruction of British attitudes toward public health and innovations in administrative measures. The introductory chapter contains a brief retrospect of sanitary reform in the late 18th century and the first half of the 19th. This period culminated in the Sanitary Act of 1866, which permitted central compulsion to be applied when local authority was defective but created no central health administration worthy of the name.

The energy of progressive physicians receives credit for the next important development, the establishment of the famous Royal Sanitary Commission in 1868. Its report, issued in 1871, eventuated in three legislative measures, which set up the central mechanisms that were to function

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