Approaches to Health Essay - Essay Prowess

Approaches to Health Essay


Approaches to Health


Improving and maintaining the health of a person require appropriate approaches that help to maintain appropriate fitness. The first approach towards good health is to recognize people at higher risk of disease and develop appropriate intervention to minimize the risk (Spector, 2004). It also involves minimizing the average level of risk in the entire population. Public health authorities are required to coordinate certain programs for the people in order to reduce the risk of diseases (Christensen, René Martin, and Smyth, 2004). Such programs involve capacity building and creating awareness among the people in order to reduce chronic diseases, such as hypertension, cancer, diabetes and heart attack (Koenig, McCullough, and Larson, 2001). The population-wide intervention helps to change the whole exposure distribution to reduce the overall level of risk in the population (Kazarian, and Evans, 2001).  They also target health determinants aiming to improve health instead of preventing diseases.

There are different definitions concerning health. These include the negative definition, positive definition and holistic definition. Negative definition does not mean that the individual seeking health services is being negative (Curtis, 1999). Instead, it mean that when a person say he or she is healthy it mean his or her absence of illness, tiredness, upset or something that is a sign of not having proper health. Positive definition of health is coined from people’s perception regarding how people look in respect to their physical appearance (Koenig, McCullough, and Larson, 2001).  For instance, when people say, “You look very healthy” is a positive definition. It is used when people look at someone. The positive definition is useful in describing the physical fitness of people with regard to their health. However, even when an individual feels free from illness and is physically fit, there is a likelihood that he or she might have emotional problems (Kazarian, and Evans, 2001). According to WHO, health is a state of full social, mental and physical well-being and not necessarily absence of infirmity and diseases.

The WHO definition is valid because it considers all aspects of human life, not just the lack of disease. The holistic definition of health concentrates on the entire health of an individual. The definition might look at the mental aspect, social perspective and the feeling of happiness. There are various factors to consider (Curtis, 1999). These include social, emotional, intellectual and physical aspects. Therefore, because a person is physically fit does not mean that he or she benefits from a clean bill of health in all the other areas (Christensen, René Martin, and Smyth, 2004). Nonetheless, the WHO definition of health is the best relative to the rest as it caters for the factors that affect health in humans (Curtis, 1999).

There are also other definitions in relation to illness. These include disability, diseases, sick role and clinical iceberg.  Illness refers to a particular condition that controls the mind or human body from functioning normally (Koenig, McCullough, and Larson, 2001). The definition of illness considers various conditions that prevent the normal functioning of human body (Curtis, 1999). Disability is the outcome of an impairment that can be emotional, mental, cognitive, physical or developmental. A disease is any deviation from normal functioning of the body (Christensen, René Martin, and Smyth, 2004). It leads to a pathological condition that influences other parts of the body or organism. In addition, it often regarded as a condition that is associated with certain signs and symptoms (Curtis, 1999). Sick role refers to the rights and obligations of the patient. It refers to a protective role assigned to a person who is mentally or physically injured or ill. It is voluntarily given or it may be deliberately delivered as part of the social custom (Kazarian, and Evans, 2001). Clinical iceberg refers to the huge amount of illnesses that are unreported by patients or the community. The best definition of illness is that it is a period of sickness or a disease influencing the mind or body (Christensen, René Martin, and Smyth, 2004).

Biomedical model concentrates on four main elements of health. It suggests that health involves the freedom from defect, pain and disease hence forming a condition in human body known as ‘healthy’. The model concentrates on biological aspects and disregards the social, environmental and psychological influence (Curtis, 1999). Biomedical model of healing is regarded as the modern and dominant approach in which healthcare professionals treat and diagnose a disease (Spector, 2004). Most notably, it gives limited account of psychological or social factors that play a major part in the condition (Christensen, René Martin, and Smyth, 2004). According to biomedical model, every illness has one major cause and if that factor is eliminated, the patient will recover. Moreover, health care professionals and doctors relate this model to treatment, cure and diagnosis of disease.

Biomedical model of health has been developing over many years contributing to medical science improvement, development of treatment and cures such as immunization and vaccinations (Koenig, McCullough, and Larson, 2001). It focuses on treating and diagnosis of persons separately from the living conditions or lifestyles. The majority of government spends 90 percent of their healthcare budgets on this model (Curtis, 1999). Furthermore, the model assumes that the doctor takes an active role in the treatment of the disease will the patient takes a passive role (Larkin, 2011). Biomedical model has various advantages. It generate technology advancement and research hence it helps to understand how to diagnose and treat illnesses (Zhang, 2008). Nonetheless, there are numerous disadvantages of the model. The model depends on technology and expertise from health care professionals hence it is expensive (Christensen, René Martin, and Smyth, 2004). There is no treatment of diseases, such as cancer. Biomedical model does not cater for poor countries that have no modern technology and funds (Spector, 2004).

Biopsychosocial model deals with the behavioral, psychological, social, biological factors of the patient to assess his or her treatment or illness. The model looks at emotions and thoughts of a person that play a role in normal functioning of the body (Kazarian, and Evans, 2001). The biopsychosocial model has a wide range of advantages. For instance, the model deals with the disease causation (Raphael, Rioux, and Bryant, 2010). Therefore, it attempts to get more information about how the cause of diseases or illnesses arises from the functioning of the body of an individual (Christensen, René Martin, and Smyth, p. 2004). It also assesses how various social aspects, such as technology, poverty, culture, economic status and religion affect health. Nevertheless, it has various disadvantages. For instance, it deliberately enhances artificial differences between psychology and biology and usually causes confusion in programs dissemination (Curtis, 1999). The model poorly addresses the issue of managed health care and costs.

Holistic model of health concentrates with body, mind and spirit aspects. It is summarized as biopsychological-spiritual model instead of promoting health through medical approach. Religion and spirituality are important aspects of individual treatment with diagnosed medical issue (Kazarian, and Evans, 2001). Religion and spirituality ensures adequate support of patients that facilitate mental and physical health. It also offers opportunities for spiritual well-being promotion (Zhang, 2008). Most importantly, the model acknowledges that families and individuals may encounter pain or illnesses that concern spiritual issues, which may be manifested in emotional or physical symptoms (Christensen, René Martin, and Smyth, 2004).

Holistic model of health have various drawbacks. First, many people may compromise their health when they combine the holistic model with traditional treatments (Spector, 2004). Furthermore, it is difficult to implement the model because it is too costly, especially for profit-oriented firms, such as pharmaceutical industries (Curtis, 199). Lay models of health suggest that nonprofessional health care gives affect the relationship, behavior and attitude to healthvare professionals. According to this model, a body is like a machine therefore, illness is a biological issue while scientific medicine is a natural treatment of the latter (Raphael, Rioux, and Bryant, 2010). In addition, it argues that modern medicine creates inequalities of access to treatment. It also notes that health is a major part of spirituality (Christensen, René Martin, and Smyth, 2004). The disadvantage of the model is that it does not acknowledge the importance of medicine and scientific approach. In addition, it stresses on the need of strong individualism (Curtis, 1999).

There are various determinants of health, which include: gender, race and environment. The differences between male and female health often manifests in different categories. For instance, some sex-associated biological features stimulate the gender differentials in health (Kazarian, and Evans, 2001). Race predisposes human being to health disparities. (Christensen, René Martin, and Smyth, 2004). Social class determines the accessibility of health care. The poor people have no required resources to access health care services.

Functionalism perspective of illness explain the responsibility of the sick in a particular society and how it influences focus on the society as a whole in the way it functions through elements such as norms, traditions and customs (Koenig, McCullough, and Larson, 2001). The strength of the theory is that it views the community as interacting organs of human body (Christensen, René Martin, and Smyth, 2004). The weakness of the theory is that it assumes a person deliberately accept he sick role.

Symbiotic interactionism develops concept of stigma and labeling as important factors in symbiotic meaning. The theory suggests that society develops rules of deviance, which labels people as outsiders (Zhang, 2008). It also argues that people create a pathological problem as deviant. It leads to stigmatization where a disease label is fixed to a person (Curtis, 1999). The strength of the theory is that it gives consequences of stigmatization and labeling which negatively affect health.

Marxist perspective of illness and health looks at how the society needs to react to illness. The theory is based on individual perspective, but persons are characterized by political and economic systems in a community. These determine the place of an individual in the community (Koenig, McCullough, and Larson, 2001). The theory also argues that classes with high social control in the community affect the access of health care for other people in a lower social class (Larkin, 2011). The weakness of the theory is that it does not provide all factors that affect health.

Social constructivism perspective argues that illness and health are socially constructed. The theory focuses on interactive development of relationship and mutual construction. The strength of the perspective suggests that social interaction exist when people interact with the environment through social interactions (Christensen, René Martin, and Smyth, 2004). The weakness of the perspective is that mental and physical conditions have no objective reality but they only affect health if they are considered as such by the society.


There are different aspects of health that determine the living status of the human beings. The environment affects the approaches of health, living status and ability to seek for proper interventions. According to biomedical model, health involves the freedom from defect, pain and disease hence forming a condition in human body known as ‘healthy’. In addition, biopsychosocial model focuses on emotions and thoughts of a person that play a role in normal functioning of the body. It account for psychological causes for diseases, such as negative thinking, emotional problems, and lack of self-control. There are different determinants of health, for example, sex-associated biological features that stimulate the gender differentials in health. Social control in the community affects the access of health care for the other people in lower social class. Poor people suffer from environmental pollution, poor living standards, low income etc. Lastly, health perspective is an important factor in determining the social and economic well-being of individuals. Therefore, all the factors that affect it should be taken into account.

Works Cited

Christensen, Alan J, René Martin, and Joshua M Smyth. Encyclopedia Of Health Psychology. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2004. Print.

Curtis, Anthony J. Health Psychology. London: Routledge, 1999. Print.

Kazarian, Shahe S, and David R Evans. Handbook Of Cultural Health Psychology. San Diego, Calif.: Academic Press, 2001. Print.

Koenig, Harold G, Michael E McCullough, and David B Larson. Handbook Of Religion And Health. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Print.

Larkin, Mary. Social Aspects Of Health, Illness And Healthcare. Maidenhead, England: McGraw Hill/Open University Press, 2011. Print.

Raphael, Dennis, Marcia H Rioux, and Toba Bryant. Staying Alive. Toronto: CSPI, 2010. Print.

Spector, Rachel E. Cultural Diversity In Health & Illness. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2004. Print.

Zhang, Yawei. Encyclopedia Of Global Health. Los Angeles: Sage Publications, 2008. Print.