Social Science [?] Medicine (SOC SCI MED)

Publisher: Elsevier

Journal description

Social Science & Medicine provides an international and interdisciplinary forum for the dissemination of research findings, reviews and theory in all areas of common interest to social scientists and health practitioners and policy makers. The journal publishes material relevant to any aspect of health from a wide range of social science disciplines (eg. anthropology, economics, education, ethics, geography, political science, psychology, social policy and sociology), and material relevant to any of the social sciences from any of the professions concerned with physical and mental health, and with health care practice, policy and organisation. It is particularly keen to publish findings or reviews which are of general interest to an international readership.The journal will publish the following types of contribution:1) Original research reports (preferably not more than 8,000 words in length).2) Critical or analytical reviews in any area of theory, policy or research relevant to health and illness (again preferably not more than 8,000 words in length).3) Short research reports or "think pieces" on topical theoretical or empirical issues (not more than 2,000 words).4) Letters relating to materials previously published in Social Science & Medicine, or to topical and internationally relevant issues concerning social science and health.5) Editorials or commentaries commissioned by the Editors.6) Part or whole Special Issues bringing together collections of papers on a particular theme, and usually edited by a guest editor.7) Reviews commissioned by the book review editor, or recently published books or groups of books which are likely to be of general interest to an international readership. Health Abstracts Online Health Abstracts Online is the new online service that has replaced Abstracts Online Social Science & Medicine. This new online service provides full details of the aims and scope, table of content, free abstracts, author lists and keywords of all articles published in Social Science & Medicine and Health & Place from 1995 onwards. Search each individual journal, or across the whole programme, for a particular topic and access the abstracts provided absolutely free of charge. Access is quick and easy for any user. Whether you are a new user or an existing user simply go to the new website at and you will automatically enter the new site where you can browse the information provided. When you wish to access the free journal abstracts you will be asked to login by providing your name and e-mail address. You will only need to login once, subsequent visits and access to the abstracts will be automatic. Health Abstracts Online will be regularly updated so visit the website and create a bookmark now - make Health Abstracts Online a regular stop for your research needs. The XVth International Conference on the Social Sciences & Medicine took place on 16-20 October 2000 in Veldhoven (near Eindhoven), The Netherlands. Proposals to host the XVIth International Conference are invited. Arranged as a series of workshops, each led by a discussion leader, the conference addresses key issues relating to the behavioural and social aspects of health and healthcare. For full details visit

Current impact factor: 2.56

Impact Factor Rankings

2015 Impact Factor Available summer 2015
2013 / 2014 Impact Factor 2.558
2012 Impact Factor 2.733
2011 Impact Factor 2.699
2009 Impact Factor 2.71

Impact factor over time

Impact factor

Additional details

5-year impact 3.69
Cited half-life 8.50
Immediacy index 0.68
Eigenfactor 0.05
Article influence 1.31
Website Social Science & Medicine website
Other titles Social science & medicine (1982), Social science & medicine, Social science and medicine
ISSN 1873-5347
OCLC 7667666
Material type Periodical, Internet resource
Document type Journal / Magazine / Newspaper, Internet Resource

Publisher details


  • Pre-print
    • Author can archive a pre-print version
  • Post-print
    • Author can archive a post-print version
  • Conditions
    • Pre-print allowed on any website or open access repository
    • Voluntary deposit by author of authors post-print allowed on authors' personal website, or institutions open scholarly website including Institutional Repository, without embargo, where there is not a policy or mandate
    • Deposit due to Funding Body, Institutional and Governmental policy or mandate only allowed where separate agreement between repository and the publisher exists.
    • Permitted deposit due to Funding Body, Institutional and Governmental policy or mandate, may be required to comply with embargo periods of 12 months to 48 months .
    • Set statement to accompany deposit
    • Published source must be acknowledged
    • Must link to journal home page or articles' DOI
    • Publisher's version/PDF cannot be used
    • Articles in some journals can be made Open Access on payment of additional charge
    • NIH Authors articles will be submitted to PubMed Central after 12 months
    • Publisher last contacted on 18/10/2013
  • Classification
    ​ green

Publications in this journal

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Mass conflict and displacement erode the core psychosocial foundations of society, but there is a dearth of quantitative data examining the long-term mental health effects of these macrocosmic changes, particularly in relation to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. In 2013, we conducted a cross-sectional community study (n = 230) of West Papuan refugees residing in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, testing a moderated-mediation structural equation model of PTSD symptoms in which we examined relationships involving the psychosocial effects of mass conflict and displacement based on the Adaptation and Development after Persecution and Trauma (ADAPT) model, a trauma count (TC) of traumatic events (TEs) related to mass conflict, and a count index of current adversity (AC). A direct and an indirect path via AC led to PTSD symptoms. The ADAPT index exerted two effects on PTSD symptoms, an indirect effect via AC, and a moderating effect on TC. PTSD symptoms were directly associated with functional impairment. Although based on cross-sectional data, our findings provide support for a core prediction of the ADAPT model, that is, that undermining of the core psychosocial foundations of society brought about by mass conflict and displacement exerts an indirect and moderating influence on PTSD symptoms. The path model supports the importance of repairing the psychosocial pillars of society as a foundation for addressing trauma-related symptoms and promoting the functioning of refugees. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 05/2015; 132. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.03.020
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    ABSTRACT: From twenty years of information and communication technology (ICT) projects in the health sector, we have learned one thing: most projects remain projects. The problem of pilotism in e-health and telemedicine is a growing concern, both in medical literature and among policy makers, who now ask for large-scale implementation of ICT in routine health service delivery. In this article, we turn the question of failing projects upside down. Instead of investigating the obstacles to implementing ICT and realising permanent changes in health care routines, we ask what makes the temporary ICT project survive, despite an apparent lack of success. Our empirical material is based on Norwegian telemedicine. Through a case study, we take an in-depth look into the history of one particular telemedical initiative and highlight how ICT projects matter on a managerial level. Our analysis reveals how management tasks were delegated to the ICT project, which thus contributed to four processes of organisational control: allocating resources, generating and managing enthusiasm, system correction and aligning local practice and national policies. We argue that the innovation project in itself can be considered an innovation that has become normalised in health care, not in clinical, but in management work. In everyday management, the ICT project appears to be a convenient tool suited to ease the tensions between state regulatory practices and claims of professional autonomy that arise in the wake of new public management reforms. Separating project management and funding from routine practice handles the conceptualised heterogeneity between innovation and routine within contemporary health care delivery. Whilst this separation eases the execution of both normal routines and innovative projects, it also delays expected diffusion of technology. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 05/2015; 132. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.03.016
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    ABSTRACT: Communities struggling with access to healthcare in the U.S. are often considered to be disadvantaged and lacking in resources. Yet, these communities develop and nurture valuable strategies for healthcare access that are underrecognized by health scholars. Combining medical sociology and critical race theory perspectives on cultural capital, this paper examines the health-relevant cultural resources, or Cultural Health Capital, in South Texas Mexican American border communities. Ethnographic data collected during 2011-2013 in Cameron and Hidalgo counties on the U.S.-Mexico border provide empirical evidence for expanding existing notions of health-relevant cultural capital. These Mexican American communities use a range of cultural resources to manage healthcare exclusion and negotiate care in alternative healthcare spaces like community clinics, flea markets and Mexican pharmacies. Navigational, social, familial, and linguistic skills and knowledge are used to access doctors and prescription drugs in these spaces despite social barriers to mainstream healthcare (e.g. cost, English language skills, etc.). Cultural capital used in marginalized communities to navigate limited healthcare options may not always fully counteract healthcare exclusion. Nevertheless, recognizing the cultural resources used in Mexican American communities to facilitate healthcare challenges deficit views and yields important findings for policymakers, healthcare providers, and advocates seeking to capitalize on community resources to improve healthcare access. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 04/2015; 133:145-152. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.04.006
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    ABSTRACT: This study examines differences in the resources, information, and support parents coping with pediatric cancer accessed from different types of network contacts. Using interviews with parents of childhood cancer patients (N = 80 parents), we examine (1) if parents rely on different types of network ties to access tailored information, resources or support; (2) differences in the nature or utility of information, resources, and support offered by different types of network contacts; and (3) the role of health-related professionals in brokering new network ties. Findings show that after a child's cancer diagnosis, parents received support from a broad portfolio of network members, which included preexisting network ties to friends and families as well as the formation of new ties to other cancer families and health-related professionals. Family, friends, and neighbors offered logistical support that aided balancing preexisting work and household responsibilities with new obligations. Parents formed new ties to other families coping with cancer for tailored health-related emotional and informational support. Health-related professionals served as network brokers, who fostered the development of new network ties and connected parents with supportive resources. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 04/2015; 134:59-65. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.04.003
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    ABSTRACT: There is no evidence comparing head-to-head the effects of monetary incentives to act and to abstain from acting on behaviour. We present an experiment, conducted between June and September 2012, that directly compares the effects of those two different monetary incentive schemes on eating behaviour: we evaluate incentives to eat against incentives not to eat. A large number of participants (n = 353) had bowls of sweets next to them while they watched different videos over two experimental sessions that were two days apart. Sweets eating was monitored and monetary incentives to eat or not to eat were introduced during one of the videos for participants randomly allocated to these conditions. Our results show that, while both types of incentives were effective in changing sweets-eating behaviour when they were in place, only incentives not to eat had significant carryover effects after they were removed. Those effects were still significant two days after the monetary incentives had been eliminated. We also present some additional results on personality and health-related variables that shed further light on these effects. Overall, our study shows that incentives not to eat can be more effective in producing carryover effects on behaviour in domains like the one explored here. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 04/2015; 133:153-158. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.04.002
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    ABSTRACT: More than 100,000 mobile phone software applications ('apps') have been designed for the dissemination of health and medical information and healthcare and public health initiatives. This article presents a critical analysis of self-diagnosis smartphone apps directed at lay people that were available on the Apple App Store and Google Play in mid-April 2014. The objective of the analysis is to contribute to the sociology of diagnosis and to critical digital health studies by investigating the phenomenon of digitised diagnosis via apps. We adopted a perspective that views apps as sociocultural artefacts. Our analysis of self-diagnosis apps suggests that they inhabit a contested and ambiguous site of meaning and practice. We found that app developers combined claims to medical expertise in conjunction with appeals to algorithmic authority to promote their apps to potential users. While the developers also used appeals to patient engagement as part of their promotional efforts, these were undermined by routine disclaimers that users should seek medical advice to effect a diagnosis. More research is required to investigate how lay people are negotiating the use of these apps, the implications for privacy of their personal data and the possible effects on the doctor-patient relationship and medical authority in relation to diagnosis. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 04/2015; 133:128-135. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.04.004
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    ABSTRACT: Prior research shows that health disparities exist between sexual minority and heterosexual individuals. We extend the literature by testing if the higher prevalence of childhood victimization experienced by sexual minority individuals accounts for lifetime health disparities. Heterosexual (n = 422) and sexual minority (n = 681) participants were recruited on-line in North America. Respondents completed surveys about their childhood victimization experiences (i.e., maltreatment by adults and peer victimization) and lifetime physician-diagnosed physical health conditions. Results showed that sexual minority individuals experienced higher prevalence of childhood victimization and lifetime physical health problems than heterosexuals. Mediation analyses indicated that maltreatment by adults and peer bullying explained the health disparities between sexual minority individuals and heterosexuals. This study is the first to show that multiple childhood victimization experiences may be one pathway to explain lifetime physical health disparities. Intervention programs reducing the perpetration of violence against sexual minority individuals are critical to reduce health care needs related to victimization experiences. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 04/2015; 133:111-119. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.03.043
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    ABSTRACT: Mental health status has an association with labour market outcomes. If people in temporary employment have poorer mental health than those in permanent employment then it is consistent with two mutually inclusive possibilities: temporary employment generates adverse mental health effects and/or individuals with poorer mental health select into temporary from permanent employment. We apply regression analyses to longitudinal data corresponding to about 50,000 observations across 8000 individuals between 1991 and 2008 drawn from the British Household Panel Survey. We find that permanent employees who will be in temporary employment in the future have poorer mental health than those who never become temporarily employed. We also reveal that this relationship is mediated by greater job dissatisfaction. Overall, these results suggest that permanent workers with poor mental health appear to select into temporary employment thus signalling that prior cross section studies may overestimate the influence of employment type on mental health. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 04/2015; 134:50-58. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.04.001
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    ABSTRACT: It is unclear whether psychological resilience to stress in adolescence represents a persistent characteristic relevant to the subsequent risk for depression and anxiety in later adulthood. We aimed to test whether low psychological stress resilience assessed in adolescence is associated with an increased risk of receiving medication for depression and anxiety in middle age. We utilized Swedish register-based cohort study. Men born between 1952 and 1956 (n = 175,699), who underwent compulsory assessment for military conscription in late adolescence were followed to examine subsequent risk of pharmaceutically-treated depression and anxiety in middle age, from 2006 to 2009 corresponding to ages between 50 and 58 years, using Cox regression. The associations of stress resilience with prescription of antidepressant and anxiolytics medication through potential mediating factors cognitive and physical function and adult socioeconomic factors were calculated. Low stress resilience was associated with elevated risks for antidepressant (hazard ratio (HR):1.5 (95% CI 1.4 1.6)) and anxiolytics (HR:2.4 (CI 2.0 2.7)) medication. Adjustment for measures of childhood living circumstances attenuated the associations somewhat. Around a third of association with low stress resilience, and a half of that with moderate resilience, was mediated through cognitive and physical function in adolescence and adult socioeconomic factors. The magnitude of the inverse association of higher cognitive function with antidepressant medication was eliminated among those with low stress resilience. These results indicate that low stress resilience in adolescence is associated with an increased risk for antidepressant and anxiolytics medication over 30 years later, in part mediated through developmental factors in adolescence and socioeconomic circumstances in adulthood, and low stress resilience can diminish or eliminate the inverse association of higher cognitive function with antidepressant medication. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 04/2015; 134:43-49. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.03.057
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    ABSTRACT: Living with a spouse is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease mortality in middle age, but it remains unclear whether marriage and other living arrangements are important both for the development of the disease and the survival following incidence. Cohabitation and living alone have also become more common in many Western societies and thus warrant further study. We explored the association between living arrangements and myocardial infarction (MI) incidence and fatality. We used a population-based register sample of adults aged 40-60 in Finland in 1995 (n = 302,885) followed up until the end of 2007. MI incidence and mortality were identified from hospital discharge records and cause of death register (5917 incident cases in men and 1632 in women). Living with a marital partner was contrasted to three alternatives: cohabiting with non-marital partner, co-residence with persons other than a partner and living alone. MI incidence and long-term fatality were analysed with Cox proportional hazards regression with time-varying covariates and first-day fatality with logistic regression. Men who were married had a lower risk of MI incidence even after adjusting for socioeconomic factors - i.e. education, occupation, income, wealth and employment status - with small differences between the other living arrangement groups. For women the effects of living arrangements on incidence were fully explained by the same socioeconomic factors. However, our findings revealed that living arrangements were strong determinants for survival after MI independent of other socio-demographic factors. The results demonstrate greater fatality associated with living alone in men and suggest that cohabitation in midlife may be associated with a greater fatality risk in women. The social support and control offered by a marital relationship may protect from MI fatality in particular. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 03/2015; 133:93-100. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.03.054
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    ABSTRACT: We investigate the impact of peer competition on longevity using a unique historical data set of 144 prominent music composers born in the 19th century. We approximate for peer competition measuring (a) the number or (b) the share of composers located in the same area and time, (c) the time spent in one of the main cities for classical music, and (d) the quality of fellow composers. These measures suggest that composers' longevity is reduced, if they located in agglomerations with a larger group of peers or of a higher quality. The point estimates imply that, all else equal, a one percent increase in the number of composers reduces composer longevity by ∼7.2 weeks. Our analysis showed that the utilized concentration measures are stronger than the personal factors in determining longevity, indicating that individuals' backgrounds have minimal impact on mitigating the effect of experienced peer pressure. The negative externality of peer competition is experienced in all cities, fairly independent of their population size. Our results are reaffirmed using an instrumental variable approach and are consistent throughout a range of robustness tests. In addition to the widely known economic benefits associated with competition, these findings suggest that significant negative welfare externalities exist as well. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 03/2015; 134:30-42. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.03.052
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    ABSTRACT: This paper examines whether a peer group intervention that reduced self-reported risky behaviors for rural adults in Malawi also had impacts on non-participants in the same communities. We randomly assigned two districts to the intervention and control conditions, and conducted surveys at baseline and 18 months post-intervention using unmatched independent random samples of intervention and control communities in 2003–2006. The six-session peer group intervention was offered to same-gender groups by trained volunteers. In this analysis, we divided the post-intervention sample into three exposure groups: 243 participants and 170 non-participants from the intervention district (total n = 415) and 413 control individuals.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 03/2015; 133:136-144. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.03.055
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    ABSTRACT: A growing body of research reports associations of school contexts with adolescents' weight and weight-related behaviors. One interesting, but under-researched, dimension of school context that potentially matters for adolescents' weight is the gender composition. If boys and girls are separated into single-sex schools, they might be less concerned about physical appearance, which may result in increased weight. Utilizing a unique setting in Seoul, Korea where students are randomly assigned to single-sex and coeducational schools within school districts, we estimate causal effects of single-sex schools on weight and weight-related behaviors. Our results show that students attending single-sex schools are more likely to be overweight, and that the effects are more pronounced for girls. We also find that girls in single-sex schools are less likely to engage in strenuous activities than their coeducational counterparts. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 03/2015; 134:1-11. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.03.053
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    ABSTRACT: Intimate partner violence is widespread and represents an obstacle to human freedom and a significant public health concern. Poverty alleviation programs and efforts to economically "empower" women have become popular policy options, but theory and empirical evidence are mixed on the relationship between women's empowerment and the experience of violence. We study the effects of a successful poverty alleviation program on women's empowerment and intimate partner relations and violence from 2009 to 2011. In the first experiment, a cluster-randomized superiority trial, 15 marginalized people (86% women) were identified in each of 120 villages (n = 1800) in Gulu and Kitgum districts in Uganda. Half of villages were randomly assigned via public lottery to immediate treatment: five days of business training, $150, and supervision and advising. We examine intent-to-treat estimates of program impact and heterogeneity in treatment effects by initial quality of partner relations. 16 months after the initial grants, the program doubled business ownership and incomes (p < 0.01); we show that the effect on monthly income, however, is moderated by initial quality of intimate partner relations. We also find small increases in marital control (p < 0.05), self-reported autonomy (p < 0.10), and quality of partner relations (p < 0.01), but essentially no change in intimate partner violence. In a second experiment, we study the impact of a low-cost attempt to include household partners (often husbands) in the process. Participants from the 60 waitlist villages (n = 904) were randomly assigned to participate in the program as individuals or with a household partner. We observe small, non-significant decreases in abuse and marital control and large increases in the quality of relationships (p < 0.05), but no effects on women's attitudes toward gender norms and a non-significant reduction in autonomy. Involving men and changing framing to promote more inclusive programming can improve relationships, but may not change gender attitudes or increase business success. Increasing women's earnings has no effect on intimate partner violence. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 03/2015; 133:177-188. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.03.042
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    ABSTRACT: The Caribbean region presents the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS worldwide after sub-Saharan Africa; leading to serious social, economic and health consequences at the local scale but also at the regional and global levels. In Colombia, a national plan to tackle the epidemic was formulated with little evidence that its implementation in the local context is effective. This study focused on Cartagena – one of Colombia's largest cities and an international touristic hub – that presents one of the highest HIV prevalences in the country, to investigate whether the national plan accounts for local specificities and what are the barriers to local implementation. Based on the Contextual Interaction Theory (CIT), this qualitative research relied upon 27 interviews and 13 life stories of local inhabitants and stakeholders, collected in a first fieldwork in 2006–2007. A follow-up data collection took place in 2013 with 10 participants: key policymakers and implementers, NGO representatives and local inhabitants. Barriers identified by the participants included: local population's understandings and beliefs on condom use; stigma and discrimination; lack of collaboration from the Church, the education sector and local politicians; corruption; high staff turnover; frequent changes in leadership; lack of economic and human resources; and barriers to health care access. The findings suggest that global influences also have an impact on the CIT framework (e.g. international organisations as a major financier in HIV prevention). The participants put forward several feasible solutions to implementation barriers. We discuss how several of the proposed solutions have been applied in other Latin American and Caribbean countries and yielded positive results. However, further research is needed to find possible ways of overcoming certain barriers identified by this study such as corruption, the lack of collaboration of the Church and barriers to health care access.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 03/2015; 133:36-44. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.03.048
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    ABSTRACT: In the mid 2000s, in an effort to increase competition among hospitals in France - and thereby reduce hospital care costs - policymakers implemented a prospective payment system and created incentives to promote use of for-profit hospitals. But such policies might incentivize 'upcoding' to higher-reimbursed procedures or overuse of preference-sensitive elective procedures, either of which would offset anticipated cost savings. To explore either possibility, we examined the relative use and costs of admissions for ten common preference-sensitive elective surgical procedures to French not-for profit and for-profit sector hospitals in 2009 and 2010. For each admission type, we compared sector-specific hospitalization characteristics and mean per-admission reimbursement and sector-specific relative rates of lower- and higher-reimbursed procedures. We found that, despite having substantially fewer beds, for-profit hospitals captured a large portion of market for these procedures; further, for-profit admissions were shorter and less expensive, even after adjustment for patient demographics, hospital characteristics, and patterns of admission to different reimbursement categories. While French for-profit hospitals appear to provide more efficient care, we found coding inconsistencies across for-profit and not-for-profit hospitals that may suggest supplier-induced demand and upcoding in for-profit hospitals. Future work should examine sector-specific changes in relative use and billing practices of for elective surgeries, the degree to which these elective surgeries are justified in either sector, and whether outcomes differ according to sector used. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 03/2015; 133:53-58. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.03.051