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Obesity Cover

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Obesity

Cultural and Biocultural Perspectives

Alexandra A. Brewis

In a world now filled with more people who are overweight than underweight, public health and medical perspectives paint obesity as a catastrophic epidemic that threatens to overwhelm health systems and undermine life expectancies globally. In many societies, being obese also creates profound personal suffering because it is so culturally stigmatized. Yet despite loud messages about the health and social costs of being obese, weight gain is a seemingly universal aspect of the modern human condition.



Grounded in a holistic anthropological approach and using a range of ethnographic and ecological case studies, Obesity shows that the human tendency to become and stay fat makes perfect sense in terms of evolved human inclinations and the physical and social realities of modern life. Drawing on her own fieldwork in the rural United States, Mexico, and the Pacific Islands over the last two decades, Alexandra A. Brewis addresses such critical questions as why obesity is defined as a problem and why some groups are so much more at risk than others. She suggests innovative ways that anthropology and other social sciences can use community-based research to address the serious public health and social justice concerns provoked by the global spread of obesity.

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Obesity Interventions in Underserved Communities

Evidence and Directions

edited by Virginia M. Brennan, Shiriki K. Kumanyika, and Ruth Enid Zambrana

The obesity epidemic has a disproportionate impact on communities that are hard-hit by social and economic disadvantages. In Obesity Interventions in Underserved Communities, a diverse group of researchers explores effective models for treating and preventing obesity in such communities. The volume provides overviews of the literature at specific junctures of society and health (e.g., the effectiveness of preschool obesity prevention programs), as well as commentaries that shape our understanding of particular parts of the obesity epidemic and field reports on innovative approaches to combating obesity in racial/ethnic minority and other medically underserved populations in the United States. Authors make specific recommendations to policy makers which are designed to reverse the rising rate of obesity dramatically. The thirty-one literature reviews, commentaries, and field reports collected here address obesity prevention and treatment programs implemented across a spectrum of underserved populations, with particular attention paid to children and adolescents. Aimed at students, clinicians, and community workers in public health and health policy, as well as family medicine and pediatrics, sociology, childhood education, and nutrition—and deeply informed by fieldwork—this book demonstrates the importance of taking a full contextual view, both historical and current, when considering the challenge of reversing upward obesity trends among ethnic minorities, impoverished people, and other underserved populations.

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One for the Road

Drunk Driving since 1900

Barron H. Lerner

Don’t drink and drive. It's a deceptively simple rule, but one that is all too often ignored. And while efforts to eliminate drunk driving have been around as long as automobiles, every movement to keep drunks from driving has hit some alarming bumps in the road. Barron H. Lerner narrates the two strong—and vocal—sides to this debate in the United States: those who argue vehemently against drunk driving, and those who believe the problem is exaggerated and overregulated. A public health professor and historian of medicine, Lerner asks why these opposing views exist, examining drunk driving in the context of American beliefs about alcoholism, driving, individualism, and civil liberties. Angry and bereaved activist leaders and advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving campaign passionately for education and legislation, but even as people continue to be killed, many Americans remain unwilling to take stronger steps to address the problem. Lerner attributes this attitude to Americans’ love of drinking and love of driving, an inadequate public transportation system, the strength of the alcohol lobby, and the enduring backlash against Prohibition of the 1920s. The stories of people killed and maimed by drunk drivers are heartrending, and the country’s routine rejection of reasonable strategies for ending drunk driving is frustratingly inexplicible. This book is a fascinating study of the culture of drunk driving, grassroots and professional efforts to stop it, and a public that has consistently challenged and tested the limits of individual freedom. Why, despite decades and decades of warnings, do people still choose to drive while intoxicated? One for the Road provides crucial historical lessons for understanding the old epidemic of drunk driving and the new epidemic of distracted driving. Praise for Barron H. Lerner’s award-winning When Illness Goes Public: Celebrity Patients and How We Look at Medicine "Lerner has done a beautiful job of tracing the degree to which celebrity patients have reflected and shaped the modern American understanding of doctors, patients, and illness."—New England Journal of Medicine "Lerner has created a powerful prism through his thoughtful exploration of celebrity illness, highlighting societal and cultural forces that widely affect public and private health care decisions."—Journal of the American Medical Association "We can learn quite a bit about our society, culture, and values from the way celebrities' illnesses are publicly portrayed . . . Lerner is at his best when he uses his considerable narrative skills to place these stories into their broader historical, cultural, and ethical contexts."—American Journal of Bioethics "In Lerner's capable hands, these dozen stories in their retelling are both colorfully dramatic narratives, ripped from the headlines (as the saying now goes) and also probing samples of historically specific contingencies and shifting attitudes."—Bulletin of the History of Medicine

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Plague, Fear, and Politics in San Francisco's Chinatown

Guenter B. Risse

People and bubonic plague have a long and tragic history. When health officials in San Francisco thought they discovered plague in their city’s Chinatown in 1900, they responded with intrusive, controlling, and arbitrary measures that touched off a sociocultural clash still relevant today. Guenter B. Risse’s history of this epidemic features the tale of desperately ill Wong Chut King, believed to be the initial person infected, and is the first to incorporate the voices of those living in Chinatown at the time. Lasting until 1904, the plague in San Francisco's Chinatown reignited racial prejudices, re-sparked efforts to remove the Chinese from their district, and created new tensions among local, state, and federal public health officials quarreling over the presence of the deadly disease. Risse's rich, nuanced narrative of the event draws from a variety of sources, including Chinese-language news reports and other accounts. He addresses the ecology of Chinatown, the approaches taken by Chinese and Western medical practitioners, and the effects of quarantine plans on Chinatown and its residents. Risse explains how the presence of plague threatened California’s agricultural economy and San Francisco’s leading commercial role with Asia, discusses why it brought on a wave of fear mongering that drove perceptions and intervention efforts, and describes how Chinese residents organized and successfully opposed government quarantines and evacuation plans in federal court. In probing public health interventions in the context of one of the most visible ethnic communities in United States history, Plague, Fear, and Politics in San Francisco’s Chinatown offers insight into the clash of Eastern and Western cultures in a time of medical emergency.

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Pneumonia Before Antibiotics

Therapeutic Evolution and Evaluation in Twentieth-Century America

Scott H. Podolsky

Pneumonia—Osler's "Captain of the Men of Death" and still the leading infectious cause of death in the United States—has until now received scant attention from historians. In Pneumonia Before Antibiotics, clinician-historian Scott H. Podolsky uses pneumonia's enduring prevalence and its centrality to the medical profession's therapeutic self-identity to examine the evolution of therapeutics in twentieth-century America. Focusing largely on the treatment of pneumonia in first half of the century with type-specific serotherapy, Podolsky provides insight into the rise and clinical evaluation of therapeutic "specifics," the contested domains of private practice and public health, and-as the treatment of pneumonia made the transition from serotherapy to chemotherapy and antibiotics—the tempo and mode of therapeutic change itself. Type-specific serotherapy, founded on the tenets of applied immunology, justified by controlled clinical trials, and grounded in a novel public ethos, was deemed revolutionary when it emerged to replace supportive therapeutics. With the advent of the even more revolutionary sulfa drugs and antibiotics, pneumonia ceased to be a public health concern and became instead an illness treated in individual patients by individual physicians. Podolsky describes the new therapeutics and the scientists and practitioners who developed and debated them. He finds that, rather than representing a barren era in anticipation of some unknown transformation to come, the first decades of the twentieth-century shaped the use of, and reliance upon, the therapeutic specific throughout the century and beyond. This intriguing study will interest historians of medicine and science, policymakers, and clinicians alike.

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Politics in the Corridor of Dying

AIDS Activism and Global Health Governance

Jennifer Chan

Few diseases have provoked as many wild moralistic leaps or stringent attempts to measure, classify, and define risk and treatment standards as AIDS. In Politics in the Corridor of Dying, Jennifer Chan documents the emergence of a diverse range of community-based, nongovernmental, and civil society groups engaged in patient-focused AIDS advocacy worldwide. She also critically evaluates the evolving role of these groups in challenging authoritative global health governance schemes put in place by what she describes as overcontrolling or sanctimonious governments, scientists, religious figures, journalists, educators, and corporations. Drawing on more than 100 interviews conducted across eighteen countries, the book covers a broad spectrum of contemporary sociopolitical issues in AIDS activism, including the criminalization of HIV transmission, the fight against “big pharma,” and the politics of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Chan argues that AIDS activism disrupts four contemporary regimes of power—scientific monopoly, market fundamentalism, governance statism, and community control—by elevating alternative knowledge production and human rights. This multidisciplinary book is aimed at students and scholars of public health, sociology, and political science, as well as health practitioners and activists. Politics in the Corridor of Dying makes specific policy recommendations for the future while revealing how AIDS activism around the world has achieved much more than increased funding, better treatment, and more open clinical trial access: by forcing controlling entities to democratize, activists have changed the balance of power for the better and helped advance permanent social change.

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The Politics of Polio in Northern Nigeria

Elisha P. Renne

In 2008, Northern Nigeria had the greatest number of confirmed cases of polio in the world and was the source of outbreaks in several West African countries. Elisha P. Renne explores the politics and social dynamics of the Northern Nigerian response to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which has been met with extreme skepticism, subversion, and the refusal of some parents to immunize their children. Renne explains this resistance by situating the eradication effort within the social, political, cultural, and historical context of the experience of polio in Northern Nigeria. Questions of vaccine safety, the ability of the government to provide basic health care, and the role of the international community are factored into this sensitive and complex treatment of the ethics of global polio eradication efforts.

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Populations, Public Health, and the Law

Law plays a crucial role in protecting the health of populations. Whether the public health threat is bioterrorism, pandemic influenza, obesity, or lung cancer, law is an essential tool for addressing the problem. Yet for many decades, courts and lawyers

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Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action

Vol. 1 (2007) through current issue

Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP) is a national, peer-reviewed journal whose mission is to identify and publicize model programs that use community partnerships to improve public health, promote progress in the methods of research and education involving community health partnerships, and stimulate action that will improve the health of people and communities. The first scholarly journal dedicated to Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR), PCHP is a must for public health professionals and the libraries that serve them.

Public Health Cover

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Public Health

The Development of a Discipline, Volume 2, Twentieth-Century Challenges, vol. 2

Edited and with an introduction by Dona Schneider and David E. Lilienfeld

Published in 2008, the first volume of Public Health focused on issues from the dawn of western civilization through the Progressive era. Volume 2 defines the public health challenges of the twentieth century--this important reference covers not only how the discipline addressed the problems of disease, but how it responded to economic, environmental, occupational, and social factors that impacted public health on a global scale. Major illnesses such as cancer, HIV, and tuberculosis are addressed, along with lifestyle concerns, such as tobacco and nutrition. Chapters also explore maternal-child and women's health, dental public health, health economics and ethics, and the role of philanthropy. Each chapter begins with an in-depth introduction, followed by three original articles that illustrate the problem. The volume is enhanced with a detailed chronology of public health events, as well as appendices that contain many of the original documents that ushered public health into the new millennium.

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