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Doctors out of control

15th May 2006

Modern medicine is a powerful institution. With the help of highly developed drugs and surgical techniques, it promises to relieve suffering, improve the quality of life and extend the life-span. Conversely, it is expensive for the governments, insurance companies and individuals who pay for it and sometimes appears to be insensitive to the needs of those for whom it provides. And while recent restructuring of health care delivery services has provided medical practitioners with new challenges, there has been very little consideration of the range of pressures that they now face.

In a world which often appears to be controlled by experts, the medical profession has been among the most powerful of these groups. Increasingly, however, the status of medicine has been questioned by the growth of a more critical sociology, encouraging the alternative view of medicine as a dominating professions, monopolizing the provision of health services or responding to the requirements of the economic system. Other groups ranging from feminists to anti-vivisectionists are also increasingly questioning medicine's authority within health services.

In Challenging Medicine the editors and contributors reassess the position of the medical profession and the extent to which it still dominates the health field. Its findings will be of interest to all students and lecturers of medical sociology and in social policy as well as to all health care professionals

Edited and written by experienced medical sociologists, this text presents a lively re-appraisal of the current changes to the health service and analyzes their effects on the status and practice of health professionals. It also provides original debate on the challenges posed from within medicine from nurses and managers and alternative practitioners, and from outside by self-help groups, the women's movement and the media.

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