Alleviating suffering and treating patients, whether in a physician’s office or an emergency room, can be a matter of prescribing medication or staunching a bleeding wound. But every clinical story has a social story, and patients who present with acute medical problems or a chronic disease often describe the everyday life conditions that made them sick in the first place. These stories are often about where they work, live, and play, and about their income, food security, and housing.
Doctors are now listening. More than this, they are working with their patients and communities to address the root causes of illness at their sources. Upstream Medicine features interviews by medical students and residents with leading Canadian physicians whose practices bring evidence-based, upstream ideas to life. Their personal stories and patient encounters illuminate the social determinants of health – the conditions that lead to good health and long lives or to more complex, painful, and expensive downstream medical problems later on. By transforming how we imagine the practice of medicine, this book will help us build a healthier society.
It is hard not to be inspired by the depth of first-hand knowledge and the dedication of the impressive roster of physicians interviewed in Upstream Medicine.
Andrew Bresnahan is an anthropologist and resident physician in the Northern Family Medicine Program based in Labrador, Canada. Mahli Brindamour is a general pediatrician working in Saskatoon with a special interest in refugee health and Northern health. Christopher Charles is a resident physician in anesthesiology in Toronto. Ryan Meili is a family physician in inner-city Saskatoon, founder of Upstream, and author of A Healthy Society: How a Focus on Health Can Revive Canadian Democracy.
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