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Medical Sociology

A guide to medical sociology topics and resources.

Tips for Searching Part 1

Subject Headings allow you to find relevant material grouped together including titles that do not use the keywords you may have been searching.


Finding subject headings

Look at a book record in Tripod, check the subjects assigned to it, and choose whatever ones are relevant for your research.

Example:  Social Causes of Health and Disease by William C. Cockerham (2014).


            Diseases Social aspects

            Health Social aspects

            Social medicine

            Subject search Diseases Social aspects=382 results!

            Narrowing to Sexually transmitted diseases Social aspects=5 results


Refining subject searches

You can combine different concepts into a single subject search for precision.  The results are more focused than a keyword search.

But all the words have to be terminology used in library subject cataloging.

To ensure this, you can use subject headings you have already found.  Another option is to browse in the subject headings for more choices.                   

      Combination subject search:

      "Social medicine Case studies" OR "Social medicine Cross-cultural studies"

Recommended Subject Headings

These links go to subject searches for books on Tripod. You can use these same subject headings to search for articles in Tripod or on specific databases. Remember, you can narrow your search by limiting fields on the right, including format type, language, and year of publication.

Tips for Searching Part 2

If you search a catalog or database and receive a large number of results, add a limit or additional keyword in order to retrieve a manageable and relevant number of results to review.  At the same time overly narrow search terms can return too few results.  One way of solving both problems is to use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), which allow you to limit or expand searches depending on your needs.

For example, a search for sociology AND health will return items that contain both "sociology" and "health":


illness OR disease returns items that contain either one of the terms or both:

midwife* NOT "home birth" returns items that talk about midwifery in the professional setting:

Phrase searching:

An important strategy to use when searching for phrases ("public health") or titles:

For example, "health disparities"

will search for those words in that order, finding the 2003 NICH publication.


Truncation and Wildcards:

Most catalogs and databases enable users to search variations of keywords by using truncation (*) or wildcard (e.g., ?, $, !) symbols.

For example, one could search for politic*  to find politic, politics, political, politicking, and so on.

Wildcard searches are for differences within words: a search for wom?n will return results for woman, women, and womyn.


Nested Searching:

When pairing two or more keywords with another keyword, it is important to "nest" the former terms within a larger Boolean search.

For example, (race OR ethnicity OR minority) AND (health OR illness) will return results for the union of the two subject areas.

In the Proquest Sociology database this search returns results including "Examining the relationship between race, ethnicity, foreign-born status, and social capital among women on public assistance" by Lindsay B. Gezinski. Social Indicators Research 115.1 (Jan 2014): 9-21.