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Conditions and Diseases

How can you describe concepts of health?


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November 09, 2010 3:56PM

It will come as no surprise that sociologists have great difficulty in agreeing on a definition of what it means to be healthy. Health can be defined in terms of the absence of disease, sometimes described as a negative approach to health. This is contrasted with a positive definition such as that provided by World Health Organisation; not merely an absence of disease, but a state of complete physical, mental, spiritual and social well-being.

There are three concepts of health; these are holistic, positive and negative. A person can have one or more concept of health. In the health and care sectors, care professionals would adopt a holistic approach to care and support. They see their role as addressing the needs of the whole person rather than specific issues or identified problems.

A holistic health is the belief that being healthy means being without any physical disorders or diseases and being emotionally uncomfortable, people with this view are likely to label themselves as ill when they experience a wide range of unpleasant feelings, not just physical discomfort or pain.

A positive concept of health is the belief that being healthy is a state achieved by continuous effort. People with this belief take active steps to maintain their health. They will take credit for continued absence from disease and blame themselves if they develop symptoms.

A negative concept of health is the view that being healthy is the absence of illness- not having any symptoms of disease, pain or distress. People with this view are likely to believe that good health is normal and to take it for granted they are well. They assume that they do not need to take any actions to keep healthy. Unlikely to think of themselves as ill when they have minor discomfort caused by colds or headaches, or when they feel tired or depressed.

A person with complex needs, for example a young mother with multiple sclerosis, may be supported by a range of professionals. These would include a GP, a community nurse, an occupational therapist, a social worker and a health visitor, often referred to as a multidisciplinary team. They will each have their particular roles and responsibilities for her care and support, but they will want to carry out a holistic assessment; they will recognize the importance of the young woman's wider needs when providing their specialist care.