CFS: Comorbidity (Soc Sci & Med)

Call for Abstracts for a Special Issue of Social Science & Medicine COMORBIDITY

Abstract deadline: 25 March, 2013

Guest co-editors: Lesley Jo Weaver, Emory University, and Ron Barrett, Macalester College

Abstract of Special Issue: What are the boundaries and links between health conditions? Noncommunicable and infectious diseases tend to cluster and interact such that people experience more than one at a time. Traditionally, clinicians have used concepts such as “comorbidity” and “syndrome” to describe these simultaneous conditions, but they have often continued to treat them as independent entities. More recently, medical social scientists are using concepts such as “syndemic” and “structural violence” to understand the synergistic interactions between health conditions in specific sociocultural and economic contexts, and their impact on individuals and communities. These broader approaches demonstrate that, in the realm of human experience, the boundaries between ostensibly “independent” health conditions often shift, blur, and even dissolve.

There is a nascent but rapidly growing interest in illness interactions among the medical social sciences. Yet, despite significant research and theoretical contributions, no unified discussion of these findings has been published in a peer-reviewed journal. Such discussion is especially important, given the increasing prevalence of multiply linked health conditions around the world. This special issue will feature original research on the permeable boundaries and interactions between noncommunicable and infectious diseases, and the social contexts in which they occur. We anticipate that it will be of great interests to medical social scientists, healthcare providers, and public health practitioners.

The articles in this special issue will critically examine the concept of “comorbidity,” “syndemics,” and related concepts, drawing on original research on people with diseases and disabilities in various global contexts. Each paper will explore at least one of the following:

  • 1) The stakeholders involved in setting and reifying conventional borders between diseases, disabilities, and social factors. This includes the objectives and consequences of drawing particular boundaries.
  • 2) Comparisons and contrasts between local and global conceptions of co-occurring maladies. What models exist outside of the “comorbidity” discourse, and what are the objectives and consequences of these models?
  • 3) The utility of framing social conditions as health conditions. How do social conditions interact with physical conditions, and how might they function as illnesses themselves?
  • 4) The theories and methods needed for further examination of comorbidity.

This collection of papers will enrich academic and clinical approaches to comorbid illnesses by highlighting the unique insights that alternative analytical frameworks can bring to this timely concern. Bracketed with a reflective introduction and commentary, this collection will address questions about the nature of “chronic” versus “infectious” health conditions and the changing nature of the disease concept.

Scope and Instructions for Contributing Authors: We seek submissions that report on original research and/or theoretical innovations derived from international and interdisciplinary work. Contributions are welcome from scholars working across disciplines, including—but not limited to—public health, medicine, nursing, and the social sciences. The submission deadline for abstracts is Monday, March 25, 2013. Abstracts not exceeding 300 words should be emailed directly to Lesley Jo Weaver at Abstracts that increase the international and interdisciplinary scope of the collection will be given special priority in the selection process.


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