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Remaking the American PatientHow Madison Avenue and Modern Medicine Turned Patients into Consumers$
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Nancy Tomes

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469622774

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469622774.001.0001

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This Isn’t Your Father’s Patient

(p.1) Introduction
Remaking the American Patient

Nancy Tomes

University of North Carolina Press

This book explores why patients in America have come to be regarded and to think of themselves as consumers. It argues that the birth of the patient as consumer occurred not in the late twentieth century but rather a century earlier. Long before the 1970s, Americans began to seek out information, ask questions, and challenge medical authority; in the process, they started to reshape the culture of American medicine. In its discussion of consumerism, this book challenges some widely held assumptions about medical history, such as the notion that a “golden age” of placid doctor–patient relationships existed in the United States from the 1910s to the 1960s. It considers how changes in the medical economy and the expansion of consumer culture fueled the debates over what it meant to be a “good” patient or a “good” doctor. It also investigates the influence of critical medical consumerism on physicians and drugstores.

Keywords:   patients, consumerism, doctor–patient relationship, medical economy, consumer culture, medical consumerism, physicians, drugstores

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