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Medical understandings of lifestyle : an interpretive study of 'lifestyle' as a medical explanatory framework


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Hansen, EC 2001 , 'Medical understandings of lifestyle : an interpretive study of 'lifestyle' as a medical explanatory framework', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis provides an overview of lifestyle as a medical explanatory concept,
explicating contemporary medical understandings of lifestyle and situating these within
a wider social and historical framework. It argues that ideas about lifestyle have a long
history in medical thought but that what is meant by lifestyle and how this is seen as
relating states of sickness and health has shifted according to audience and time period.
This thesis also addresses the sociological critique of a lifestyle approach to health and
disease. It argues that this critique has focused on medical understandings of lifestyle
only as an epidemiological and public health concept. This has resulted in a neglect of
wider medical understandings and the constructions of individual doctors. This
lacunae in sociological knowledge is addressed through empirical investigation of
wider medical understandings of lifestyle within the framework of an interpretive
qualitative study of medical texts, in-depth interviews with doctors from a variety of
different medical specialities, observation of doctor/patient consultations and
participant observation during medical consultations.
The results of this analysis demonstrate that while the sociological critique of a lifestyle
approach to health, and disease does reflect many features of the wider medical
understandings of lifestyle found in this project, that there is no single unified medical
conception of lifestyle. Instead lifestyle is a shifting medical concept that is interpreted
and applied differently between different medical fields, and between different medical
doctors. Furthermore, as an explanatory concept, lifestyle has several features which
make it an unusual and extremely useful medical concept. These features include
flexibility, the ability to explain health and not just disease, the capacity to utilise lay
understandings and offering the capacity for the self management of risk.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Hansen, EC
Keywords: Health promotion, Health risk assessment, Lifestyles
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2001 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 2001. Includes bibliographical references

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