Functionalism Theory on Health Care

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The healthcare system is one of the current major concern in the Australian administration as it is a very critical need for the people. This paper focuses on discussing the hierarchy and power in the healthcare systems as well as the existing strategies that have been set aside by the Australian government for improving the health care. Furthermore, the study also involves the discussion of sociological theories and sub-theories such as the symbolic interaction and conflict theories (Hall et al., 2015). The sociological theories help in learning as well as evaluating the social interactions, behavior as well as the relationships among the individuals in the nation.

Evaluation of the implications of the theory to the health care system will also be covered in this paper. There exist some major lessons that could be implied to the healthcare systems from the sociology theory. A comprehensive report on the various studies done on the existing condition of the health care system and services will also be included in this paper giving opinions on how to improve them. The paper will also give an outline of how the medical specialists need to apply the lessons from the findings on the sociological theories as well as from other related suggestions into the healthcare system of Australia (Potter et al., 2016). Basically, the health care is not an equal service to all the Australians. There exist some few unfortunate people who are not in a position to acquire good medication due to either the high medical cost or even from the past government or the arms of power failure to provide any form of assistance.

The Australian Health Care Systems

A health care system according to the World Health Organization includes all the activities that aim at promoting, restoring as well as maintaining the health status of all the people. Furthermore, a good and reliable health care system should offer their services fairly to all the individuals when in need. The structure of the services differs from nation to nation, however, there are some common elements that include: a qualified workforce, a strong funding mechanism, a well-maintained facility and the possibilities to deliver services and medications as well as a reliable information from where one could base decisions and policies (Runciman et al., 2017). The professionals come from both the private as well as the public sectors that work in hand to make sure that good health is guaranteed to all the Australians. The public sector is usually funded by the nation while the private sector is self-sponsored meaning that they are in a position to fund all their activities on their own.

According to the World Health Organization statistics, Australia has been recently ranked among the top countries with the most effective health care services. Despite having a complicated form of health care system, it is of huge benefit to the people as there have been fewer death registrations among the Australian individuals. The health care system provides the background information such as gender, location, age, economic status, health history as well as the cultural background. Furthermore, there exists a network of governance that provides support to the healthcare while enhancing, coordinating as well as regulating the policy in the system. The body of governance also provides funds that are necessary for purchasing the required facilities. The task of the governance and coordination requires a huge output of the government stakeholders as well as the non-governmental stakeholders (Worden, 2018). Furthermore, the amount of funds spent in health care increases annually due to the population evolution in the continent. The health of the system thus depends on the health of the individuals where the national objective is to guarantee the individual wellbeing as well as prosperity.

In Australia, there are two types of health care, that is, the primary as well as the secondary healthcare. In particular, the primary healthcare involves when an individual first encounter with a health specialist. Here, a person does not need a referral for this level of care as it involves the services offered by nurses, general medical specialist, dental practitioners, indigenous health workers as well as the pharmacists. They are usually delivered in the community health centers with a community as well as in organized public health promotion service centers. On the other hand, secondary health care is not only an independent body as well as a gateway to the wider health systems where the individuals are referred from the primary centers to seek more specialized medication. That is the general structure of the healthcare in Australia (Thompson, 2017). In addition, there are other programs set by the government such as the health insurance fund that assists an individual in acquiring treatment free of charge for both the public as well as the private health centers. Other programs include the development funds that assist people in the remote areas such as the Aborigines as well as the less fortunate individuals such as the refugees to acquire healthcare services.

Sociological Theories on Health Care

The sociology theories basically try to explain how the relationships, behavior as well as the interactions of individuals are integrated to ensure the social wellbeing of the people. On the other hand, health refers to the state of being in good condition in terms of socially, physically as well as emotionally (Manners, 2017). Thus, health is a key element as far as maintaining good relation and interaction with other individuals in the society is concerned.

The Functionalism Theory

The sociological theories such as functionalism theory state that health is vital for the smooth running of the society. Furthermore, for an effective treatment there need to be a good relationship amid the patient and the physician and the patients should always stick to the doctor’s instructions for assurance of getting well. According to Cockerham (2017) when individuals are not in a good health condition, they will not be able to be involved in work and thus the development of the nation is affected in a huge way. Also, premature deaths as a result of causes such as pregnancy, birth as well as childcare hinder people from carrying out their social roles. Thus, poor healthcare is as disadvantageous to all the individuals as it is a threat to both the life of patients themselves as well the healthy people’s lives surrounding them.

The Conflict Theory

This theory tries to bring out the fact that dispute is as a result of unfair dealings within the health care services. Furthermore, the social inequalities among the people like class, race, gender as well as ethnicity are often portrayed in the health care services. According to a recent research, statistics verify that individuals in Australia are prone to receiving health care services differently depending on the status. In particular, most of the individuals in the remote areas have difficulties in accessing proper health care as compared to the ones in the urban centers (Kuper, 2017). It becomes disastrous that most of the less fortunate individuals become the most vulnerable to diseases in instances they are unable to get good health care. This theory also discourages the efforts of the health specialists to have in control of the entire medical practice assuming that all the health problems affecting individuals are only as a result of medicine and not the sociological factors (Turner, 2017). However, this approach has got both the negative as well as the positive perspective. The positive perspective includes that they are taken to be the only learned people in the society that could assist other individuals out of the social problems. On the other hand, the negative perspective includes that they are taken to have a pay rise when they ever managed to dominate the entire social problems to be medical solvable. For instance, the application of contraceptives for birth control among the adult females is medical, however, giving birth is a social role of the women in the society, therefore, there emerges a conflict amid the medical instructions and the social responsibilities.

Symbolic Interactionist Theory

 This theory states that diseases and health are constructed socially, meaning that, any physical, mental or even emotional disorder has got no reality unless contracted from the members of a given community. In other words, no disease can thrive in a given community unless it has been previously distinguished as well as experienced. For example, there exists a movement of some heavy people in the US that campaigns against heavyweights to reduce obesity which has been a huge threat to many. Formerly, these individuals were just referred to as big people, however, the condition has turned out to be a health condition (Akers, 2017). The Symbolic Interactionist Approach thus provides some essential evaluation of the patient-physician relationship. Furthermore, the physicians at all times need to portray their profession based on the dressing, mood of approach as well as communication among others. On the other hand, the patient has to wait for the physician wearing a white attire not just anyone with no identity. Also, the physicians tend to use a writing as well as terms only understandable to the specialists.

Sociological Theories Impact on the Medical Practitioners

There are key values that a medical practitioner needs to possess, this includes to always know that working on an individual’s health is a calling and need to be performed with full responsibility and humanity. Furthermore, it is always wise to be social, that is relating well to all the classes of people with no discrimination or bias. All individuals are equal and thus, they deserve fair treatment. Power in the hierarchy is therefore very critical in the running of the healthcare system and consequently, we as the physicians need to respect the authority as well as take part in maintaining of the policy as well as the decisions made (Bowling, 2014). Value of the society and the traditions is another essential lesson that the medical practitioners need to embrace in order to develop a perfect relationship with them.

According to the Functionalist Theory, every stakeholder in care need to be responsible while doing their work. As such, they should be on their toes while ensuring that patients get the appropriate medication always as highlighted in their major responsibilities. In particular, they have to listen to the patients attentively, offer the appropriate prescriptions as well as direct them on how to lead a healthy living. On the other hand, according to the conflict theory, the physicians need to observe their core values while dealing with the patients. For example, when there are several patients awaiting medication from a physician, and one of them happens to be a close friend or relative to the physician, there should be no bias to treat the friend before the others (Braithwaite et al., 2016). The only instances that the physician is allowed to discriminate is in case of emergencies where the condition happens to affect only a given group of people. Such cases include FGM which brought a lot of conflicts in most of the African countries cannot be handled as discrimination as there are huge threats when it is practiced than on the males.

Since physicians are professional, as such, they are always expected to show their dignity in their character of being role models to others. Furthermore, their life should reflect what they tell about living a healthy life to avoid illnesses. The physicians and the patients should also be free to one another so that the patients are in a position to explain their illnesses while the physicians are also able to prescribe as well as guide the patients on how to lead a healthy life. According to the Symbolic Interactionist Approach, there has to be a professional relationship between the physicians and the patients (Peters, 2017). For example, in the case when the gynecologists are examining the females, they need to perform professional examinations with no sexual harassments. There is a policy in some nations that states that whenever a male will be examining the genitals of a female, a female nurse has to be present. Nevertheless, it remains the role of a physician to conduct a research on the most occurring problem in the line of duty. This could not only help the physicians but also the government at large in detecting any outbreak in a state. The medical practitioners should, therefore, be extremely cautious regarding health issues so as to protect the lives of the citizens. The medical practitioners need also be informed as well as well trained in their field of medicine since it is a critical area that requires full concentration.

Finally, healthcare systems include all the activities surrounding efficient as well as effective health care services. All the stakeholders involved should, therefore, a partner in the efforts to achieve the greater objective of a healthy nation. Furthermore, through the current hierarchy of power, the medical practitioners are now in a position to work based on the coordination and respect while observing the policies and regulations that have been set aside for a perfect governance in the field of health. The government needs to, therefore, work tirelessly to ensure that all the people more so the unfortunate in the society such as the refugees are in a position to access the right health care. Health includes the normal physical, social as well as the mental condition and having the sociological theories in mind, medical professionals will be in a position to enhance good health in the society at large.


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October 13, 2023

Health Sociology

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