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Am J Public Health. 2002 May;92(5):730-2.

McKeown and the idea that social conditions are fundamental causes of disease.

Author information

1
Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA. bgl1@columbia.edu

Abstract

In an accompanying commentary, Colgrove indicates that McKeown's thesis-that dramatic reductions in mortality over the past 2 centuries were due to improved socioeconomic conditions rather than to medical or public health interventions-has been "overturned" and his theory "discredited." McKeown sought to explain a very prominent trend in population health and did so with a strong emphasis on the importance of basic social and economic conditions. If Colgrove is right about the McKeown thesis, social epidemiology is left with a gaping hole in its explanatory repertoire and a challenge to a cherished principle about the importance of social factors in health. We return to the trend McKeown focused upon-post-McKeown and post-Colgrove-to indicate how and why social conditions must continue to be seen as fundamental causes of disease.

Comment in

PMID:
11988436
PMCID:
PMC1447154
DOI:
10.2105/ajph.92.5.730
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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