Individual or social responsibility for premature death? Current controversies in the British debate about health

Int J Health Serv. 1990;20(3):373-92. doi: 10.2190/9Q6H-2KE7-X6FN-3DK8.


This article uses the current controversies in the British debate about health to illustrate the need to theorize, and therefore critically evaluate, the links between medicine and health policies, including health care policies. The medical model of health is deeply embedded in institutional practices in many countries, and while this model has attracted deserved criticism in recent years, an alternative social model, or one that incorporates indispensable aspects of the medical model, has attracted much less attention and requires sustained development. Comparative study of patterns of inequality in health, and especially of the correlation between material deprivation and premature mortality, necessarily reveals causal determinants of both health and ill-health in populations and invites ambitious programs to develop a social model.

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care / standards*
  • Delivery of Health Care / trends
  • Health Policy / trends*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Mortality / trends*
  • Social Responsibility
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • State Medicine / standards*
  • United Kingdom