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Departments of Health and Social Behavior


Professor Hideki HASHIMOTO, MD, Dr.PH
Associate Professor  Dr.Naoki KONDO has moved to University of Kyoto School of Public health as of September 1st, 2020
Lecturer Daisuke TAKAGI
Lecturer Masamitsu KAMADA
Asuka KATO
Introduction and Organization
The department originated as one of the first departments dedicated to health education and behavioral science in Japan, led by former Prof.Emeritus Tadao Miyasaka, who had double degrees of M.D. from the University of Tokyo and MPH in health education from Harvard School of Public Health in 1950s. He was succeeded by a sociologist, former Prof. Kyoichi Sonoda who founded the first health sociology department affiliated with the medical school in Japan. Since then, the program has been leading research focusing on socio-behavioral aspects of health in this country.

The legend was extended by former Prof. Chieko Kawada who raised academic and practical attention on the concept of empowerment and adult pedagogy in health education. Since 1997,
the department was further evolved by Prof. Ichiro Kai who integrated diverse health and social science disciplines into social gerontology program, and by Associate Prof. Yoshihiko Yamazaki who led sociological research projects on salutogenesis, social stigma, power, and agency in health settings. The departments were reorganized under the newly established School of Public Health since 2007.

In 2012, the Department of Social Gerontology has been renamed as the Department of Health and Social Behavior to apply a life-course perspective to a wider range of social conditions and human well-being.The new department intends to further integrate health science (medicine and public health) and social science (economics, sociology, and psychology) to reveal a causal mechanism linking social structure and individual health for realizing health equity as a fundamental goal to human security.

Teaching activities
The departments offer four courses in the master degree program for public health, and seven courses in the undergraduate program for the Integrated Health Sciences track.

1. Graduate Courses, School of Public Health

      1) Health and Society I & II:
      The course highlights the significance of social determinants of health(SDH) as a key exposure causing social gradient of health. A series of omnibus lectures, each focusing a specific topic of SDH (e.g. income distribution, gender, job stress, and discrimination), are provided by invited lecturers specialized in the field. The course is followed by course II which offers application of concepts into practice through in-class discussion and group works.

      2) Health Education:
      The course provides basic knowledge on relevant behavioral theories for health promotion and behavioral modification,followed by case method learning on health educational intervention in community, school,and work places. The case discussion was facilitated by invited lecturers to reach practical lessons for effective communication.

      3)  Health Sociology:
      Sociology in medicine and sociology applied to health issues are treated in the systemic course of lectures, covering social model of health, medical gaze and socialization of health professionals, phenomenology of chronic ills, and culture and health.

2. Undergraduate Courses, School of Integrated Health Sciences

      1) Introduction to social survey and practice:
      Provides introductory lecture on sampling,psychometrics, design of social survey and questionnaires. Students are asked to conduct a mini social survey within class on the theme they choose as relevant in their class experience.

      2) Health and Society (former Health sociology):
      Lecture series on social model of health generation, social relationship and health,chronic illness experience, and social stigma.

      3) Health education:
      Case scenario based practicum and lectures on health promotion intervention in clinical, school,and worksite settings.

      4) Social security and welfare program:
      Lecture series on the history and the current systems of health care security and welfare policies in this country.

      5)  Integrated Lectures of Public Health Sciences I
      (jointly offered by the faculty of Health Sciences)

      6)  Scientific writing

      7)  Critical reading/writing of epidemiological studies

      8)  Integrated Practicum of Public Health Sciences II
      (jointly offered with Department of Medical Ethics).

The department contributed to extend educational environment in the new frame of School curriculum policy, and management of educational duties with limited resources became a challenge.

Research activities
The Department has contributed to an ongoing research of socioeconomic status and health/functions among elderly population in the collaboration with the School of Economics of the University of Tokyo and the Research Institute of Economic, Industry, and Technology. The Japanese Study of Ageing and Retirement (J-STAR) is a sister study with the U.S. Health and Retirement Study, Study of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), England Longitudinal Survey of Ageing (ELSA), and their global sisters in Asian countries. The scope of JSTAR is diverse; contribution of health for successful ageing, social economic conditions and access to health care, household economy and its impact on life styles such as eating habits and nutrition, impact of retirement onto cognitive function, etc..

Since 2010, the Department has launched another panel study of younger generation, the Japanese study of Stratification, Health, Income, and Neighborhood(J-SHINE) in collaboration with researcher groups on neuroscience, economics, sociology, and social psychology. The aim of this comprehensive panel study is to identify a mechanism how socio-economic environments get to “under-skin” to cause social gradient of health across socio-economic positions. In the year of 2011, the JSHINE conducted a supplemental survey to respondent’s spouse and children. Main and supplement surveys were followed in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Obtained panel data are made open to a broader range of researchers under the data-control committee, to share analytic scheme and to enhance inter-disciplinary studies so as to better identify common factors as well as unique factors affecting health inequality in Japanese context. Following third follow-up for children conducted in 2015-2016, and third follow-up of respondent adults in 2017.

The department also joined with Departments of Public Health, Medical Informatics, and Health Economics and Clinical Epidemiology the management of National claim Data Base and onsite research center under the contract with the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Labour to extend empirical healthcare research using a representative big administrative data.
Dr. Kondo also is an active and leading core researcher in another large cohort for social epidemiology in gerontology, called Japan Gerontological Study (JAGES) that covers more than 30 municipalities and approximately 200,000 participating old people in the community. The project purports to reveal social relationship and its impact on health in later life. The team has been developing community diagnosis tool using JAGES data to support participating municipalities to effectively find leverage population for policy intervention. The developed tools have been disseminated and standardized for wider use in municipalities.

Dr. Takagi, in collaboration with Niigata University, is preparing for a social epidemiological survey of community-dwelling older adults in Myanmar and Malaysia. In these countries that have distinctive stage of economic development, culture, and ageing rate, this study aims at verifying applicability of the existing social models of health and building new theories based on each country’s context. A probability proportionate sampling of sites and selection of local investigators have been completed in 2017, and interview surveys will be conducted in 2018.

Dr. Kamada, in collaboration with Tokyo Medical University, Harvard University, and Unnan Municipality authority has been conducting a community-based intervention program to enhance exercise habits. He is also actively engaged in developing a gamification program through smartphone to enhance walking habits among the community.