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Social and behavioural science teaching in medicine and public health in India

Authors:

N. Nakkeeran ,

Indian Institute of Public Health Gandhinagar, Gujarat, IN
About N.
Associate Professor
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Kavya Sharma,

Public Health Foundation of India, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, IN
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Sanjay P. Zodpey

Public Health Foundation of India, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, IN
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Abstract

The importance of social determinants on health has been consistently highlighted in public health debates. However, this has not been the case in the sphere of medical or public health education. This review paper aims to discuss the status and problems associated with teaching social and behavioural sciences in medicine and public health programs in India. A country like India requires a medical / public health manpower that is responsive to social reality and sensitive to the role of social determinants in shaping health and health-inequity. Although social and behavioural sciences form a part of the curriculum in undergraduate and postgraduate medical, public health and health management programs, the space made available for such are limited. The problem rests on the institutional structures through which these programs are offered and on issues such as the way medicine is practiced vis-à-vis the patient and overriding emphasis on doctors in professional hierarchy in public health practice and research. In most medical institutions social and behavioural sciences (SBSs) are taught by people with no formal training in these disciplines. Correspondingly, the priority given to students is too low. Absence of efforts to make a tangible connection between social science learning and medical / public health practice, lack of well-defined career opportunities and professional dominance of mainstream medical disciplines over others are some of the reasons for this low priority. Problems also reside in the degree of heterogeneity in content, vastness of scope, diversity in perspectives within each discipline, and a lack of standardized curriculum and reading materials.
How to Cite: Nakkeeran, N., Sharma, K. and Zodpey, S.P., 2013. Social and behavioural science teaching in medicine and public health in India. South-East Asian Journal of Medical Education, 7(2), pp.6–10. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/seajme.v7i2.133
Published on 21 Dec 2013.
Peer Reviewed

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