What it means to be healthy



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What it means to be healthy

In the context of the key theoretical models of health (biomedical, sociological and holistic), this paper will define what it means to be healthy. By analyzing each of the models, I will draw on both my conceptions of health and that of others.

What it means to be healthy can viewed in a number of ways. Some look on health as a negative concept saying that an absence of disease, infirmity or illness provides good health. Others feel that a more positive perspective is the key by maintaining a high level of fitness, healthy lifestyle and taking steps to prevent ailments with a focus on mental health. (Haralambos, 2008,280)

The United Nations created an organisation 1946 called the World Health Organisation following the Second World War. It out lined what it believed to be the ideal state of health as a core principle of its constitution. “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. (WHO,1948, Haralambos, 2008,281).



In 1984, this was amended in an attempt to create a clearer definition of what is health.

“Health is the extent to which an individual or group is able on the one hand, to realise aspirations and satisfy needs and on the other hand, to change or cope with the environment. Health is, therefore, seen as a resource for everyday life, not the object of living: it is a positive concept emphasising social and personal resources as well as physical capabilities.” (WHO,1984, Class notes, 2012)

In the western world a model of health known as the bio medical model has been adopted where health is measured in figures of mortality rates and chronic illnesses cured The body is treated like a machine that has malfunctioned and needs to be fixed. (Haralambos, 2008,281, WHO, 2011)

A person will have symptoms, visit their doctors, and through standard diagnosis and will be offered treatment in form of medications, therapies or referred to a hospital. There are set guidelines that doctors follow, such as the (NICE,2012) guidelines. This approach has greatly increased the general health of the population. It also recognised mental health as a treatable condition rather than an incurable disability but still took a clinical view for example treating a person who has depression with antidepressants. (Class notes, 2012, Walsh, 2006,89)

To budget setters treatment was a more economically desirable option compared to the cost of mass sociological changes. However, this model has been criticised for not getting to the route cause of problems, creating a cycle of diagnosis followed by treatment “By targeting only the disease it can be cured but not eliminated.” (Blaxter 1983, 1995 , 52).

This model will only function if a country has the infer-structure to support it. "A society is healthy when there is equal opportunity for all and access by all to the goods and services essential to full functioning as a citizen." (Russell 1973, Haralambos, 2008,297)

Over time, this gave rise to other theories such as Thomas, the role of medicine(1999) argues that, “the improvement of health over past 3 centuries was essentially due to provision of food, protection from hazards and limitation of number.”

This is known as the sociological model and defines health by quality of life, state of mind in combination with treatment so a person . It has been very successful in situations where there is little access to medical technologies of the west. (Walsh, 2006, 93, Class notes ,2012)

Social development combined with a good diet, lifestyle and a high level of sanitation can eliminate the need for many treatments, by resolving the causes rather than curing the consequences of bad health. (Walsh, 2006,92)

“Nothing will change unless or until those who control resources have the wisdom to venture off the beaten path of exclusive reliance on biomedicine as the only approach to health care.” (G. L. Engels, Gillespie, 1995 ,p 57)

However, this model has been criticised for being slow and ineffective in finding solutions and it is often the next generations that benefit. The model relies on people complying with the rules, breaking long-term habits and the massive costs involved in social changes resulting in big promises but little progress. (Walsh, 2006,p101)

In the United Kingdom, this is slowly being adopted after the black report 1980 and the Acheson report 1999 in an attempt to improve the UK health through prevention and lifestyle improvements as well as new theory’s on mental health. For example, a person with depression would be offered counselling, their social situation changed and given help to get back on their feet combined with medication. (Walsh, 2006,p101)

Voluntary Initiatives such as the, “5 a day program” and “clear labelling legislation”, have tried to change the public’s traditional view of health. Laws such as the smoking ban in 2007 have forced healthier lifestyles on people using a social rather than medical solution.

“The aim is to improve people's living conditions and health. The need to reduce the widening inequalities in health is one of the priorities of this policy. Preventing avoidable illness will allow concentration of resources on other health conditions. Improvement in factors, which effect health, are targeted, these include individual life style, social and economic aspects, the environment and access to services. The Government aims to improve the health of the population in terms of lifespan and years free of disease, and to improve the health of the worst off in society thereby reducing the health gap.”(Acheson report,1999)

Examples of this can also be found in Africa where charities such as, water aid have provided third world countries with sanitation, water systems and vaccinations. Combined with pharmaceuticals and better social education it has reduced cases of water born infections and viruses resulting in better health and improving lifestyle.

“Water Aid enables the world's poorest people to gain access to safe water and sanitation. Together with improved hygiene, these basic human rights underpin health, education and livelihoods, forming the first essential step in overcoming poverty.” (Water aid, 2012)

The final model of health known as the holistic model, attempts to take scientific diagnosis, traditional medicine and religion to cure the person physically, socially and spiritually. It is a very common form of treatment in Asia where traditional medicine is widespread but is used more to supplement treatments in the west. (Haralambos, 2008,p297)

The holistic model encourages patients to self-treat and educate themselves about their own health giving them a choice in their treatment and care. A person is seen as a scale that must be balanced in order to achieve a good state of health does not see the body as separate parts. (Naidoo, 2008.167,205)

This model has many critics mainly that the treatments are often placebos and still requires a medical or social change, rarely curing the actual illness. In some cases, negative effects will become apparent after a period such as cancer patients ignoring a doctor’s advice and using alternative therapies makes their conditions worse. (Naidoo, 2008. 168)



“Homeopathy is witchcraft. It is a disgrace at a time when the NHS is struggling for cash we should be focusing on treatments that have proven benefit. If people wish to pay for homoeopathy, that is their choice but it should not be paid for on the NHS until there is evidence that it works.” (Dolphin ,Telegraph,. 2012)

After careful analysis, I have concluded that no one model can really define what it means to be healthy. Each model has its advantages and its faults and ultimately what it means to be healthy can only be judged by ones own personal view of health. The simplest definition of what it means to be healthy from my perspective can be outlined as body and mind working in harmony together so a person can be functional physiologically, cognitively, socially and spiritually.

Reference page
Books

Michael Haralambos, 2008. Sociology: Themes and Perspectives (Haralambos and Holborn). 7th Revised Edition. Collins.


Rosemary Gillespie, 1995. Society and Health: An Introduction to Social Science for Health Professionals.1st Edition. Routledge
Mark Walsh, 2006. Health and Social Care: As for Edexcel (Collins A Level Health and Social Care).1st Edition. Collins.
Jennie Naidoo, 2008. Health Studies. 2nd Edition. Palgrave.
Websites

NICE,2012 .Available at: http://www.nice.org.uk/nicemedia/pdf/CG041PublicInfoCorrected.pdf. [Accessed 5th October 2012].

Acheson Report 2012. Available at: http://www.york.ac.uk/yhpho/documents/hea/Website/AchesonReport.pdf. [Accessed 15th October 2012].

WHO | World Health Organization. 2012. WHO | World Health Organization. Available at: http://www.who.int/en/. [Accessed 05 October 2012].

WaterAid - water and sanitation for all - UK site. 2012. WaterAid - water and sanitation for all - UK site. Available at: http://www.wateraid.org/uk/default.asp?gclid=CJOZ372clbMCFczHtAodHVAA7w. [Accessed 9th October 2012].
Newspaper

Homeopathy is witchcraft, say doctors - Telegraph. 2012. Homeopathy is witchcraft, say doctors - Telegraph. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/alternativemedicine/7728281/Homeopathy-is-witchcraft-say-doctors.html. [Accessed 13th October 2012].



Bibliography

Michael Haralambos, 2008. Sociology: Themes and Perspectives (Haralambos and Holborn). 7th Revised Edition. Collins.

Rosemary Gillespie, 1995. Society and Health: An Introduction to Social Science for Health Professionals.1st Edition. Routledge

Mark Walsh, 2006. Health and Social Care: As for Edexcel (Collins A Level Health and Social Care).1st Edition. Collins.

Jennie Naidoo, 2008. Health Studies. 2nd Edition. Palgrave.
Websites

socialscience.stow.ac.uk/rab/hnc_health/modelsofhealth.htm

http://www.york.ac.uk/yhpho/documents/hea/Website/AchesonReport.pdf

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/222649.stm

http://www.encyclo.co.uk/define/biomedical%20model

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/gary.sturt/health/healintr.htm

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/encyclopedia.html

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Pages/hub.aspx

http://www.faqs.org/health/Healthy-Living-V2/Alternative-Medicine.html

Power points

 Intro to Health Studies

 Concepts of health

 Models of Health

 Biomedical and Socio Medical Models of Health

 Holistic Model of health

 Handout Models of Health


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David James Anderson




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