2012 Volume 22 Issue 4 Pages 291-294
Social epidemiology is the field of study that attempts to understand the social determinants of health and the dynamics between societal settings and health. In the past 3 decades, large-scale studies in the West have accumulated a range of measures and methodologies to pursue this goal. We would like to suggest that there may be conceptual gaps in the science if Western research models are applied uncritically in East Asian studies of socioeconomic, gender, and ethnic inequalities in health. On one hand, there are common concerns, including population aging and gendered labor market participation. Further, international comparison must be built on shared concepts such as socioeconomic stratification in market economies. On the other hand, some aspects of health, such as common mental disorders, may have culturally specific manifestations that require development of perspectives (and perhaps novel measures) in order to reveal Eastern specifics. Exploring and debating commonalities and differences in the determinants of health in Oriental and Occidental cultures could offer fresh inspiration and insight for the next phase of social epidemiology in both regions.