Chronic Disease in the Twentieth Century
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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The structure of this book reflects my conviction that chronic disease—though a traditional medical term—was primarily an American policy construct during the first half of the twentieth century. In part I, I devote seven chapters to the United States and offer what I hope is a somewhat different perspective on...
List of Abbreviations
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This work has its origins in confusion. In December 2005 I had the good fortune to be invited to a workshop in London devoted to “chronic disease,” a term I thought I understood. I left the meeting without the faintest idea what it meant (my own paper was on premenstrual syndrome [PMS], which gives some...
Part I: Chronic Disease in the United States
1. “National Vitality” and Physical Examination
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In the early twentieth century, Americans approached their health, both individual and collective, with a mixture of confidence and anxiety. Confidence was based on the sharp decline of infant mortality; increasing control over infectious diseases; and the promise that science and rational management, backed by...
2. Expanding Public Health
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In 1920 C.-E.A. Winslow, professor of public health at Yale University, presented a long address to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in which he made the case for a “New Public Health” with a vastly enlarged role. Such expansion was already underway, he argued. Public health had...
3. Almshouses, Hospitals, and the Sick Poor
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Hospitals in the nineteenth century were charitable institutions for the poor and closely associated with other welfare agencies. By the twentieth century, they were becoming highly medicalized and serving the entire population; but they nonetheless frequently remained administratively and practically connected...
4. New Deal Politics and the National Health Survey
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During the 1930s, chronic disease became widely recognized as a critical social problem in the United States. One reason was the growing influence of the cancer movement, then attracting considerable financial support and public attention. Cancer had a life of its own, however, and the intense fears, hopes, and...
5. Mobilizing against Chronic Illness at Midcentury
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The National Health Survey on Chronic Illness (NHS) catapulted the problem of chronic disease onto the national American political stage. In the decade that followed World War II, the issue became central to a variety of American institutions: public and private, local and national, healthcare and welfare. Literature...
6. Long-Term Care
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The Commission on Chronic Illness (CCI) set out an expansive, multifaceted strategy to cope with chronic disease that can be faulted on many levels. Foreign commentators noted the generality of its proposals. From our own twenty-first- century perspective, there was perhaps too much emphasis on secondary...
7. Public Health and Prevention
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When Lester Breslow first applied for a job with the California Health Department in 1946 in order to work on chronic disease, he was initially turned down because the head of the department had no interest in this issue. The situation, however, turned quickly around. Breslow was eventually hired for...
Part II: Chronic Disease in the United Kingdom and France
8. Health, Wealth, and the State
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For much of the twentieth century, the American preoccupation with chronic disease was exceptional. Most of the issues associated with such illness were not specific to the United States but they were perceived, understood, and classified in different ways in other countries. I illustrate this point in the following...
9. Alternative Paths in the United Kingdom
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Many of the same conditions that promoted concern with chronic illness in the United States also existed in the United Kingdom. During the interwar period, there was considerable talk about disease prevention by major figures like Sir George Newman, longtime chief medical officer in the Health Ministry, and...
10. Maladies chroniques in France
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When I first began researching chronic disease in France, I encountered two difficulties. First, French historians and sociologists had no idea what I was talking about. It was not that they did not understand the literal meaning of the words; these simply had little relevance to healthcare, as they understood...
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For much of the twentieth century, France and the United Kingdom faced somewhat different health issues than did the United States. Their populations were older, although by the 1970s the age gap had narrowed and Medicare had made the health of older people a significant part of the American chronic...
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Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2014