Exploring Society By The Numbers

Sociology of Healthcare

Esther Wilder, Lehman-CUNY


This assignment will provide students with the opportunity to look at the demographic characteristics of physicians and to explore how the income distribution of physicians compares to the general population. There are two separate components of this exercise included in this assignment: (1) a comparison of the demographic characteristics of physicians to the general population, (2) an analysis of the changing demographic characteristics of physicians from 1990 to 2000. Students will gain experience preparing tables and analyzing and interpreting some of the health care data from the 1990 and 2000 United States censuses.

Learning Goals

After using this module, students will gain skills in:
  • Using software to access and analyze census data
  • Identifying independent and dependent variables
  • Quantitative writing
  • Learning how to construct, read, and interpret bivariate tables displaying frequencies and percentages
  • Creating visual tools representing quantitative data in the form of charts or graphs
  • Identifying population trends over time
  • Using real world data to enhance and support key course concepts

Context for Use

This exercise for an upper-level sociology course provides an introduction to the sociological study of heath care. These collection of 2 exercises will enable students to work on the accuracy of their results, use WebCHIP, create clear presentations of data in tabular format, critically analyze and review their findings, while learning about health care trends.

Description and Teaching Materials

Exercises: PDF (Acrobat (PDF) 119kB Mar25 09)
Exercises: DOC (Microsoft Word 73kB Mar25 09)

Teaching Notes and Tips

This activity uses a three customized datasets, one made from the 1990 Census and two made from the 2000 Census. The exercise guides students through data manipulation using WebCHIP software found at DataCounts!. To open WebCHIP with the dataset for the activity, please see instructions and links in the exercise documents under teaching materials. For more information on how to use WebCHIP, see the How To section on DataCounts!


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References and Resources

Abraham, Laurie. 1993. Mama Might Be Better Off Dead: The Failure of Health Care in Urban America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Light, Donald.[1993] 2005. "Countervailing Power: The Changing Character of the Medical Profession in the United States." Pp. 215-224 in The Sociology of Health and Illness, Sixth Edition, edited by Peter Conrad. New York: Worth Publishers.

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