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Book Review: The Impact of Inequality – How to make sick societies healthier

Drew Payne


Is our society still divided by class, is who you are born to still important or are we divided into haves and have-nots, especially in health and social care? This is the main thrust of Richard Wilkinson’s book.

Wilkinson has collected together an impressive library of research into health inequalities, but this book is more than a catalogue of other people’s work. Coming from a social epidemiology background, Wilkinson analyses this research and puts it into a social context.

This book doesn’t just look at inequalities in diseases and illness, it analyses the socioeconomic effects of these inequalities and how they impinge on many areas of human life. Wilkinson, in different chapters, illustrates the wide-ranging effects of these inequalities, the psychological and social effects and not only the effects on physical health.

This doesn’t make for a comfortable read, but it is a book that can inform any field of healthcare. In 1980, the Black Report was published and exposed the shocking inequalities in British health. This book can be seen as one of the follow-ons from that. Unfortunately, as Wilkinson illustrates here, there has been very little change since then.

Wilkinson’s tone is rather dry and academic, but don’t let that put you off because this book is a valuable insight into health inequalities. Here is an examination of the socioeconomic factors of ill health, going beyond a medical model. Also, it is worth its price alone for the library of research study references within its covers.

Rating 4/5

(This review was originally written as a commission by the Nursing Standard magazine)

Find it here on Amazon



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