Teaching materials

Advice to British soldiers about malaria. Coloured pen drawing by Copp, ca. 1944..
Credit: Wellcome Collection. CC BY.

We are updating this page regularly.  If you want to suggest key books, on-line resources or papers (especially those on open access on line) please email michelle.pentecost@kcl.ac.uk, with all the details.


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The Social Medicine Reader produced by colleagues at UNC Chapel Hill provides a survey of the challenging issues facing today’s health care providers, patients, and caregivers by bringing together moving narratives of illness, commentaries by physicians, debates about complex medical cases, and conceptually and empirically based writings by scholars in medicine, the social sciences, and the humanities.

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Ackerknecht, E. (1953). Rudolf Virchow: Doctor, statesman, anthropologist. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Eisenberg, L., & Kleinman, A. (Eds.). (1981). The relevance of social science for medicine. Boston, MA: Kluwer Boston.

Fee, E. & Brown T. M. (1997). Making Medical History: The Life and Times of Henry E. Sigerist. John Hopkins University Press.

Key Papers in Social Medicine

Pentecost et al. (2021) Revitalising global social medicine. The Lancet. Online. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)01003-5

Anderson, M.R., L. Smith, and V.W. Sidel (2005) What is social medicine. Monthly Review,  56(8): p. 27-34.

Henderson G.E., Estroff S.E., Churchill L.R., King N.M.P., Oberlander J., et al., editors (2005) Social and cultural contributions to health, difference, and inequality. The Social Medicine Reader,Volume II, 2nd edition. Durham: Duke University Press.

Porter, D. (2006). How did social medicine evolve, and where is it heading? PLoS Medicine, 10, 1667–72.

Porter D., Porter R. (1988) What was social medicine? An historiographical essay. J Hist Sociol 1: 90–106.

Eisenberg, L. (1999). Does social medicine still matter in an era of molecular medicine? Journal of urban health, 76(2): p. 164-175.

Kark, S. and Kark, E. (2006) A practice of social medicine (first published 1962). Social Medicine, 2006. 1(2): p. 116-138.

Kasper, J., et al. (2016) All health is global health, all medicine is social medicine: integrating the social sciences into the preclinical curriculum. Academic Medicine, 91(5): p. 628-632.

Rosen, G. (1947). What is social medicine? A genetic analysis of the concept. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 21, 674–733.

Stonington, S. D., & Holmes, S. M. (2006). Social medicine in the twenty-first century. PLoS Medicine, 3, e455–1662. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030445

Virchow R. (1986) Report on the typhus epidemic in Upper Silesia. In: Rather LJ, editor. Public health reports. Volume 1. Maryland: Science History Publications. pp. 307–319.

Social Medicine and COVID-19

Montenegro CR, Ortega F. (2020) Thinking beyond implementation: context and culture in global mental health. BMJ Global Health. 5:e004539

Ortega F. & Orsini M. (2020). Governing COVID-19 without government in Brazil: Ignorance, neoliberal authoritarianism, and the collapse of public health leadership, Global Public Health, 15:9, 1257-1277

Social Medicine in Africa

Special Issue: Medical and Health Humanities in Africa: Inclusion, Access and Social Justice. BMJ Medical Humanities 2018, Vol 44(4).

Tsampiras C., Mkhwanazi N., Hume V. (2018) Inclusion, access and social justice: the rhizomic evolution of a field across a continent . (Open access)

Pentecost M., Gerber B., Wainwright M., Cousins T.D. (2018). Critical orientations for humanising health sciences education in South Africa (Open Access)

Tsampiras C. (2018) Walking up hills, through history and in-between disciplines: MHH and Health Sciences Education at the tip of Africa.

Hume V., Mulemi B.A., Sadock M. (2018) Biomedicine and the humanities: growing pains.

Hume V., Wainwright M. (2018) Reflections on a field across time and space: the emergent medical and health humanities in South Africa.

Pentecost M. (2018) Field notes in the clinic: on medicine, anthropology and pedagogy in South Africa.

Marks S. (1997) South Africa’s early experiment in social medicine: its pioneers and politics. Am J Public Health 87(3): 452-459.

Susser M. 2006. A personal history: social medicine in a South African setting, 1952-5. Part 1: The shape of ideas forged in the second world war. J Epidemiol Community Health 60(7): 554-7.


Susser, M. 2006. A personal history: social medicine in a South African setting, 1952-5. Part 2: Social medicine as a calling: ups, downs and politics in Alexandra Township. J Epidemiol Community Health 60(8): 662-668.

Digby A., Sweet H. (2012) Social Medicine and Medical Pluralism: the Valley Trust and Botha’s Hill Health Centre, South Africa, 1940s to 2000s. Social History of Medicine 25(2): 425-445.

Feierman S., Janzen John M. (1992) The Social Basis of Health and Healing in Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Breath Symposium 2020: Medicine and Health Humanities Africa

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Academic Conference December 2021, Lausanne: The Future of Social Medicine, Michelle Pentecost.

Related Files: The-Future-of-Social-Medicine.mp4

Social Medicine in South America

Tajer D. (2003) Latin American social medicine: Roots, development during the 1990s, and current challenges. Am J Public Health 93 2023–2027.

Victora C.G. (2003) Latin American social medicine. Am J Public Health 93: 1987.

Waitzkin H., Iriart C., Estrada A., Lamadrid S. (2001) Social medicine then and now: Lessons from Latin America. Am J Public Health 91: 1592–1601.