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Health Care in America

A History

John C. Burnham

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A comprehensive history of sickness, health, and medicine in America from Colonial times to the present.

In Health Care in America, historian John C. Burnham describes changes over four centuries of medicine and public health in America. Beginning with seventeenth-century concerns over personal and neighborhood illnesses, Burnham concludes with the arrival of a new epoch in American medicine and health care at the turn of the twenty-first century.

From the 1600s through the 1990s, Americans turned to a variety of healers, practices, and institutions in their efforts to prevent and survive…

A comprehensive history of sickness, health, and medicine in America from Colonial times to the present.

In Health Care in America, historian John C. Burnham describes changes over four centuries of medicine and public health in America. Beginning with seventeenth-century concerns over personal and neighborhood illnesses, Burnham concludes with the arrival of a new epoch in American medicine and health care at the turn of the twenty-first century.

From the 1600s through the 1990s, Americans turned to a variety of healers, practices, and institutions in their efforts to prevent and survive epidemics of smallpox, yellow fever, cholera, influenza, polio, and AIDS. Health care workers in all periods attended births and deaths and cared for people who had injuries, disabilities, and chronic diseases.

Drawing on primary sources, classic scholarship, and a vast body of recent literature in the history of medicine and public health, Burnham finds that traditional healing, care, and medicine dominated the United States until the late nineteenth century, when antiseptic/aseptic surgery and germ theory initiated an intellectual, social, and technical transformation. He divides the age of modern medicine into several eras: physiological medicine (1910s–1930s), antibiotics (1930s–1950s), technology (1950s–1960s), environmental medicine (1970s–1980s), and, beginning around 1990, genetic medicine. The cumulating developments in each era led to today's radically altered doctor-patient relationship and the insistent questions that swirl around the financial cost of health care.

Burnham's sweeping narrative makes sense of medical practice, medical research, and human frailties and foibles, opening the door to a new understanding of our current concerns.

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Health Care in America

John C. Burnham

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Reviews

Reviews

Burnham writes for a broad audience, and the prose is easily accessible to undergraduates.

Captivating and enjoyable.

Burnham's thematic analysis of more than four hundred years of history is clearly presented, and his sweeping survey is illustrated with detailed stories and evocative images. Health Care in America is grand narrative in its finest form.

This book will be most useful for advanced undergraduates, particularly students interested in the health-related disciplines, as well as graduate students interested in the long history of medicine. Burnham provides a great starting point for scholars interested in the broad meaning of medicine and the questions associated with health and healing.

Burnham accomplishes exactly what the general synthesis should: providing the reader with all of the basic, essential information, while simultaneously provoking questions addressed in more specialized texts. On that score, Burnham performs quite admirably, and, as such, I heartily recommend Health Care in America.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6.125
x
9.25
Pages
616
ISBN
9781421416083
Illustration Description
99 halftones, 43 line drawings
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part I.
1. Health and Disease in a Land New to Europeans
2. Traditional Treatment and Traditional Healers
3. The Beginnings of Change in Traditional Health Care
4. Setting the

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Part I.
1. Health and Disease in a Land New to Europeans
2. Traditional Treatment and Traditional Healers
3. The Beginnings of Change in Traditional Health Care
4. Setting the Stage for Modern Medicine and Health, 1850s to 1880s
Part II.
5. The Age of Surgery and Germ Theory, 1880s to 1910s
6. Physiological Medicine, 1910s to 1930s
7. Physicians, Public Health, and Progressivism
8. The Era of Antibiotics, 1930s to 1950s
Part III
9. The Age of Technological Medicine, 1940s to 1960s
10. Doctors, Patients, Medical Institutions, and Society in the Age of Technological Medicine
11. Medicine in the Environmental Era, 1960s to 1980s
12. Environmental-Era Health Care in a Hostile Social Climate
Part IV.
13. The Era of Genetic Medicine, Late 1980s and After
14. The Recent Past as a New Epoch
Notes
Index

Author Bio
John C. Burnham
Featured Contributor

John C. Burnham, Ph.D.

John C. Burnham is a research professor of history at the Ohio State University, where he is also an associated scholar in the Medical Heritage Center. His most recent books include What Is Medical History? and Accident Prone: A History of Technology, Psychology, and Misfits of the Machine Age.
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