Variable: Health (medical)

The health care institution encompasses the full range of organizations and activities that deal with the health needs of a human ecosystem. Health care in modern industrial societies is relatively complex, including primary care (personal and family health maintenance, outpatient activities by general practitioners), secondary care (such as services of specialists), and tertiary care (such as hospital procedures involving surgery [Rodwin 1984]). Health care institutions often are measured by capacity (the number of doctors or hospitals per 1,000 population) or outcomes (such as infant mortality rates). In rural communities, primary care often is available locally; secondary and tertiary care often are provided on a regional basis. Hence, relatively small changes in the health institution (a doctor's retirement, the closing of a pharmacy) may have direct and indirect effects that ripple through the social system.

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