Interdisciplinary book takes a critical look at Canadian health care

A stethoscope and patient chart

A new book containing research that questions the role that evidence-based decision making plays in how we understand health and health care features a star cast from York University.

Health Matters: Evidence, Critical Social Science, and Health Care in Canada (University of Toronto Press, 2020) is co-edited by York University Professors Eric Mykhalovskiy (Sociology, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies [LA&PS]), Jacqueline Choiniere (Nursing, Faculty of Health), Pat Armstrong (Distinguished Research Professor, Sociology, LA&PS) and Hugh Armstrong (Professor Emeritus, Sociology, Carleton University).

Health Matters is a collection of original research by contributors who come from interdisciplinary and institutional research sites that bridge sociology, anthropology, health policy, nursing, midwifery, other health professions, universities, community agencies, and trade unions. The chapters address a range of health care issues including the dematerialization of nursing care, changes in palliative care decision making, the commercialization of medical education, and the proliferation of “quality” discourses in long-term care.

Cover of Health Matters book
The cover of Health Matters

The contributors explore how instrumental, managerial ways of knowing limit our understandings of and responses to health care. Working with analytic perspectives such as feminism, Marxism, critical ethnography, science and technology studies, institutional ethnography and governmentality studies they show how critical social science contributes alternative perspectives about what counts as health care problems and what to do about them.

This is a unique publication in both its content and the fact that it represents an important collaboration of interdisciplinary scholars who use critical social science research perspectives to challenge the “neoliberal effect” on health care.  The book shows how critical social science research fills a gap in contemporary health knowledge by providing fresh insights and perspectives for efforts to change Canadian health care.

Health Matters: Evidence, Critical Social Science, and Health Care in Canada brings together original, interdisciplinary social science research that intervenes in the applied, instrumental turn in Canadian health research. The book engages social science theory and methods to call into question the dominant neoliberal rationalities that shape applied health care policy and research in Canada. It critiques the growing commodification, individualization, and privatization of Canadian health services.

The book is a must-read for anyone affiliated with Canadian health care because it offers a different approach from the usual focus on efficiency and effectiveness.