HSO-31806 Advances in Health and Society


Studiepunten 6.00

Individual Paper0
Group work1
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)dr. KT Verkooijen
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. BB Bock
E Hendriks
dr. J van Berkel
dr. JN Leerlooijer
dr. KT Verkooijen
dr. HHS Moerbeek
RM van Lonkhuijzen
dr. BC Mulder
Examiner(s)dr. KT Verkooijen

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

This is an advanced course intended for students who have at least basic knowledge of health promotion. Completion of a HSO course or other course related to health is recommended as preparation.


The theory that more equal societies are healthier has been confirmed in many different contexts. This applies as well to the idea that inequality has powerful psychosocial effects. In previous times, the scientific debate was focused merely on income inequality as an independent determinant of health. Nowadays, the debate is centralized around the question how income inequalities interact with many known and unknown causal processes related to the social gradient.
In this course, we will review these processes and study the aetiological pathways used in science to explore the emerging health gaps. Case-studies are presented to unfold the theories, concepts and methods of each pathways and to critically reflect whether and how pathways are intertwined. To support students in the analysis and reflection on the pathways, hands-on experts whose job is to reduce health inequalities in practice, will present their approaches.
The assignments support students in developing an understanding of the pathways and analyse and reflect upon the role of pathways in understanding and enacting upon health inequalities.
This course contributes to the understanding and application of the principle of health inequalities and its concepts, theories and methodologies in science and practice. The social scientific viewpoints of sociology, communication and psychology are reviewed stand alone as well as in counter play with life-sciences approaches (e.g. genetics, nutrition, e-technology), especially those relevant in health care disciplines (general practice, community health care).

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- understand the different aetiological pathways that may underlie inequality in health;
- analyse specific health inequality cases according to different aetiological approaches;
- apply the different aetiological approaches in oral and written communication through oral in-class discussion and written assignments;
- critically reflect on existing strategies to reduce health inequality and alternative solutions.


The course consists of 2 lectures and 1 tutorial each week. Students will work on two assignments during the course.
For the first assignment, students (groups of 4) develop a factsheet in which they apply an aetiological (causal) pathway to a self-chosen health inequality issue. For the second assignment (in pairs) they write a policy brief in which they, as experts in studying and tackling health inequalities, propose one action strategy that addresses an inequality issue in a particular country or community.


This course will be assessed based on two group assignments (20, 30%) and a written, individual exam (50%). The assignments and the exam must each receive a mark of at least 5.5 in order to pass the course. Missing deadlines may lead to deduction of points.


Mel Bartley (2017): Health inequality. An introduction to theories, concepts and methods. Polity Press and Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Cambridge, UK. ISBN: 978-0-7456-9110-7

Verplicht voor: MCHCommunication, Health and Life SciencesMScB: Spec. B. - Health and Society1AF