Constance A. Nathanson Ph.D.

Department of Sociomedical Sciences
Columbia University
Email: Discipline: Sociology Expertise: Public Health Strategies, Women's Health

Investigator Award
Disease Prevention as Social Change: A Comparative Study of Public Health Policymaking in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, and France
Award Year: 1994 This project explores social and political factors, which foster or impede effective public health policymaking, and the development of a sociological theory of change in parameters of health and disease. Historical and demographic research indicates that public health policies play a significant role in mortality decline and that these policies are the outcome of identifiable social and political processes. Dr. Nathanson examines: the roles of state characteristics, grass-roots social and/or political movements, and issue-specific social characteristics in public health policy adoption and implementation. These variables and their relative importance are investigated through comparative analysis of infant health, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases/HIV infection, and smoking as they have evolved from the late nineteenth century to the present in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, and France. Drawing from case studies, she clarifies the unique aspects of the U.S. experience in public health policymaking, highlighting its limits and possibilities.


Constance Nathanson is a professor of clinical sociomedical sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. She received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago. Dr. Nathanson has been elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She was cited for her prize-winning research on adolescent and adult women's reproductive health; gender, socioeconomic status, and health; and the politics of public health. Dr. Nathanson has written widely on reproductive and sexual health services in the U.S. Her book, Dangerous Passage: The Social Control of Sexuality in Women's Adolescence, received the Eliot Freidson Award for Outstanding Books in Medical Sociology from the Medical Sociology section of the American Sociological Association. Dr. Nathanson's 2007 book, Disease Prevention as Social Change: The State, Society, and Public Health in the U.S., Canada, Britain and France, highlights the politics of public health and the importance of social movements in shaping public health responses. As a faculty member in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School, Dr. Nathanson currently serves as director of the nation's first multidisciplinary doctoral training program in gender, sexuality, and health, a unique undertaking which prepares students for research and teaching careers focused on the reproductive and sexual health of citizens in the U.S. and abroad.