The models of health represent different, but at the same time relates, health and disease in different groups of society. The people’s perceptions and views on how health, illness and disease are defined depend on different factors. There are four main components which can influence health and wellbeing. These are physical or biomedical, holistic, social and behavioural. This essay will explain and compare the biomedical and social models of health as well as discuss the range of social factors that influence health.
In 1948, the Worlds Health Organization (WHO) defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not a merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO, 1948). The WHO suggests that main explanation of health include physical, social and economic environment, and the individual’s aspects and behaviours. Some people think of themselves as healthy despite suffering from chronic diseases, whereas others perceive themselves as ill even if disease cannot be found (Blaxter, 2010). However the absence of disease is easier to define than presence of health.
The biomedical model of health refers purely to the way how human body functions and is considered to be the dominant, modern way for health care professionals to diagnose and treat a condition in most Western countries (Williams, 2013). According to Williams and Wilkins (2006) the biomedical model of health is explained as “conceptual model of illness that excludes psychological and social factors and includes only biological factors in an attempt to understand person’s medical illness or disorder.” Biomedicine looks at individual’s physical function and describes bad health as illness or present of disease. Therefore there is medical explanation to the cause of ill health, such as injury or infections, and does not look at social and psychological factors. Biomedical model of health naturally concentrates on ill health rather than health and then is treated with medicine as a result of it (Blaxter, 2010). This model dominates in medical practice because it has been seen to work. It is based on technically powerful science and has made massive improvements to key areas of health, for example vaccination (Bury, 2005). It means that doctors no longer need to be limited by observing of mechanical processes and can rely on science as it has been proven (Blaxter, 2010). Biomedicine view ill health as reductionist, therefore treating cause of ill health and applying cure, for example with antibiotics to treat infections.
There are number of problems associated with the biomedical view of health and it fails to take in to account socio economic aspects of life and reduces everything to medical measurements for example x rays. Consequently biomedicine treats ill health using medication, medical institution and technology, and overlooking other aspects, like social and psychological factors which can be underlying cause of disease (Blaxter, 2010). A patient who complains of symptoms that have no evident cause might also be seen as not being ill; regardless of the very real influence those symptoms may have on the individual’s daily life (Williams, 2013). However, in recent years the biomedicine now recognises the range of different factors affecting health due to rise of psychology and has moved on to incorporates the various causes of ill health (Blaxter, 2010).
In contrast to biomedical model of health, which focuses on biological and physical aspects of health, and sees individual as a series of bodily systems, social model examines the dimensions of sociology and has diverse approaches and perspectives in healthcare (Naidoo & Willis, 2008).The social model of health is the conditions of daily living that determine person’s chances of maintaining a good health. “The social model is holistic and organic, rather than reductionists and mechanical” (Blaxter, 2010, p.18). The concept of social model