Da Silva BJ. Azevedo BM. Epidemiologia e desigualdade: notas sobre a teoria e a história. [Epidemiology and inequality: notes about theory and history.]Revista Panamericana Salud Pública [Pan American Journal of Public Health] (Washington, DC) 2002 December; 12 (6): 375-383.

Objectives: To analyze historically the concept of inequality in health and treatment.

Methodology: Analitical and interpretative.

Results: The authors analyze natural and social inequalities in modern societies, the concept of equity, social inequalities from the perspectives of law and the social sciences, and the problem of inequality related to social stratification. Later, the article develops, from an historical perspective, the contributions to the study of epidemiology recognized by European authors in social medicine.

The authors analyze the predominance that, after the discoveries of Pasteur and Koch, the bacteriological causal interpretation exerted, together with the resulting decline of conceptualizations that linked illness to the social situation. Finally, the authors demonstrate the resurgence of conceptions linked to social medicine and analyze their development and important contributions in Latin America.

Conclusions: The authors conclude that studies concerning inequalities in health open great possibilities for epidemiology to reclaim its intellectual role to provide references and instruments, in this particular phase of history, for the detection and surveillance of social injustices.

Copyright 2007 University of New Mexico