We are living through a time of dynamic changes regarding disease and illness, health- and illnessrelated behaviors, the health care professions, and the health care systems in the United States and other countries. The fourth edition of this text has been written to update our description and analysis of these dynamic processes and the work of medical sociologists that help us to understand them. In preparing this fourth edition we have sought to retain and strengthen the emphases and features of the earlier editions; to thoroughly update patterns, trends, and statistics; and to present new material that reflects important changes in health care in society and important advancements in medical sociology. KEY EMPHASES WITHIN THE TEXT This edition of the text maintains the same five emphases as the earlier editions.First, we provide broad coverage of the traditional subject matter of medical sociology and include both new perspectives and new research findings on this material.The core areas of medical sociology (the influence of the social environment on health and illness, health and illness behavior, health care practitioners and their relationships to patients, and the health care system) all receive significant attention within the text. Naturally, statistics throughout the text have been updated to provide timely analysis of patterns and trends. Recent research findings and thought have been incorporated in every chapter. Attention devoted to relatively new areas in the field has not reduced coverage of traditional areas such as social stress, illness behavior, and the physician-patient relationship. Second, we have continued to emphasize emerging areas of analysis in medical sociology and recent work within the field.Recent health care reform efforts in both the public and private domains continue to have dramatic effects on almost every aspect of health care. We describe these effects on the profession of medicine (Chapter 8); medical education (Chapter 9); the status of nurses, mid-level health care practitioners, and alternative healers (Chapters 10 and 11); the physician-patient relationship (Chapter 12); the way that we pay for care (Chapter 14); and the sites at which we receive health care (Chapter 15). We also continue to incorporate key medical ethics issues throughout the text. These issues represent some of the most important health related debates occurring in the United States today, and many medical sociologists have acknowledged the importance of understanding these policy debates and setting them within a sociological context. We have attempted to provide balanced and comprehensive coverage of several of these issues (especially in Chapters 13 and 16 and in the Discussion Questions and Cases at the ends of chapters). This fourth edition also provides extended analysis of a wide range of topics including: Expanded focus on global perspective.Material on both developing and industrialized countries has been added to the text in several chapters. In addition, each chapter includes a new feature, "In Comparative Focus," that offers an informative comparison between the United States and one or more other countries on a selected topic. For example, infant mortality in developing countries (with a focus on Pakistan) is examined in Chapter 3; the provision of prenatal care in Western Europe is examined in Chapter 4; the status of female physicians in Mexico is examined in Chapter 8; the extent of truth-telling in the physician-patient relationship in Japan is examined in Chapter 13; and the exportation of managed care to Latin America is examined in Chapter 15. Extended coverage of health issues of children and adolescents. A reworking (and retitling) of Chapter 4 to extend coverage on experiencing chronic illness and disability. Extended coverage of the effects of the Human GeWeiss, Gregory L. is the author of 'Sociology of Health, Healing, and Illness', published 0008 under ISBN 9780130981370 and ISBN 0130981370.