sick role

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sick role


patient role

sickness viewed as a special status and as the basis of social identity, and distinguished from illness as a biomedical category.

The concept originated from PARSONS’ (1951) discussion of the role of medicine in industrial societies and describes a form of socially sanctioned deviance possessing the following characteristics:

  1. the sick person is exempted from normal social responsibilities;
  2. the sick person cannot be expected to look after himself or herself;
  3. the sick person is expected to desire a return to normality;
  4. the sick person is expected to seek competent professional help.

According to Parsons, being sick interferes with normal social responsibilities and permits exemption from them. Consequently it may sometimes also be a status desired by those unwilling to meet their social obligations. Medicine therefore can be seen as having the function of social control in addition to a therapeutic one. It deters malingerers and promotes an awareness of social obligation among the sick.

Parsons’ formulation has been subjected to much criticism on empirical and theoretical grounds. Nevertheless, the 'sick role’ continues to be used as a sensitizing and organizing concept for empirical studies of interaction in clinical settings by the SOCIOLOGY OF HEALTH AND MEDICINE. See also SYMPTOM ICEBERG, TRIVIAL CONSULTATION.

References in periodicals archive ?
Individuals may not believe that they need to be involved in managing their health, especially when under the care of physicians who reinforce a traditional passive patient role.
Exploring patient role behaviors for health care services: The assertive, activated and passive patient.
Although higher trust in the medical profession appears to entail a more deferential role by patients, higher trust is also consistent with more active patient roles such as seeking care and adhering to treatment regimens.
Typical analytic patients were rich persons (usually wealthier than the analyst) who cast themselves in the patient role and lived in their own home or wherever they pleased.
This framework, while holding potentially significant practical implications, has probably been more influential in challenging a certain paternalistic and authoritarian style of medical practice than in challenging the basic medical model and patient role notions.
The "beyond the four roles" category seems mainly to be shaped and instigated by changes in the (1) patient role, (2) increasing interdisciplinary teamwork, and (3) focus on rehabilitation efforts conducted in the patient's environment.
Conclusion Our findings showed that participants' health care-seeking strategies fell on a continuum that ranged from a purely patient role to one that centered on physician activities.
Families are active producers and co-creators of action and change, and thus do not function in a conventional consumer/ patient role.
Only when it feels you shudder at your own name will it assume the shape we dread, flash once like a falling star, and reappear, elsewhere, as moonlight once again, fingertips, the patient role of names.
With 86% of Providers Acknowledging Critical Patient Role, Education on Options is a Must(1)
As our nursing program coordinates the use of standardized patients with the school of medicine, we are relieved of the responsibility of recruiting and orienting individuals to the standardized patient role.

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