Different people have different perceptions and views as to what health is. As part of their daily conversations, families, friends and even workmates talk about health. From their greetings such as; how are you? How are you feeling? Et cetera, people respond to these questions and the responses are heath related. Few if any, would disagree that being healthy is desirable but then they cannot say what health is. Health is therefore a multi-dimensional concept that extents to a persons, physical, mental and social wellbeing.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as the state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing (Who.int, 2015). According to World Health Organization, the mere absence of disease or infirmity is not necessarily an implication of a healthy state. Despite its wide use, this definition is largely contentious since it is very difficult to achieve a complete state of health. The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion has also waged war on the definition problem. The charter enumerated the prerequisites of health as peace, shelter, education, food, income, a stable ecosystem, sustainable resources, and social justice and equality (O'Neill, 2012). Ill-health on the other hand has been defined as the state of inferior health due to the presence of a disease or impairment.
The Sociological Perspective of Health
Health models are the conceptual frameworks of understanding health. The sociological model of health attempts to emphasize the broader issues of health other than diseases and injuries. It goes beyond the focus of lifestyles and behavior and advocates for the need for social change so as to provide the necessary prerequisites for health. This model focuses on social, cultural, economic and environmental factors of health (Ronald, 2013).
In the social model, broader determinants such as gender, ethnicity and location, socio-economic state and physical environment influence behavioral determinants and have therefore a strong relationship with health. In this model, social inequalities are determinants in defining health. According to Ronald (2013), the empowerment of individuals with health tips falls under the auspices of social health model. There are two sociological explanations of health.
The Functionalist Approach
As viewed by Talcott Parsons, this perspective emphasizes that good health which is enabled by proper medical care is very fundamental for a societys operation. If a larger proportion of the community is in bad health, then the society will suffer. Talcott further argues that premature deaths prevents individuals from fulfilling their social roles as well as bringing forth a poor return to the society due to the costs of pregnancy, birth, child care, and the socialization of the deceased person (Ronald, 2013)..
Talcott further states that for a person to be legitimately sick, he must have had no finger in the cause of his sickness. It is his view that sick people should not be perceived as having caused their own health problems. Secondly, it is Talcott view that sick people should get well soon otherwise they would be perceived as having faked their illness. These assertions by Talcott have received overwhelming criticisms. The idea of sick role applies to acute as opposed to chronic illnesses. Also, Talcott is ignorance of the fact that social backgrounds affect the likelihood of a person being ill.
The Conflict Approach
This approach is pegged on the inequality in the quality of health and health care delivery. In this approach, people from poor backgrounds are likely to become ill than their counterparts in rich backgrounds. Once they become ill, those people from poor backgrounds take long to heal because of the inadequate health care. The conflict approach also critiques the role of physicians in control of the practice of medicine and to mix and view social problems from a medical perspective. This approach has however been criticized for being harsh, as well as its cynic criticisms of the role of physicians.
The Biological Model of Ill-Health
This model has promoted a dichotomy between health and disease. In this model which has its origin in the Doctrine of Specific Etiology, it is argued that biochemical or physiological lesions could cause disease. This model further argues that an unaffected individual has no adverse symptoms while the affected individual would in most cases show symptoms and become ill. Therefore, in this model, health and disease are considered as two distinct albeit related aspects. The difference between the two is the absence or presence of a biological factor. In this model, Illness is the subjective measure of disease independent of body temperature or even the cholesterol level (Gbophb.org, 2015).
However, this biological model has attracted various critics. First, the current scientific results have refuted the clam that health and disease are distinct. The mere presence of a particular scientific factor does not necessarily imply the presence of a disease. This therefore means the biological model is narrow and inadequate in its approach to ill-health. On the contrary health and disease are not distinct entities but rather a continuum with optimum health at one end and death on the other. The goal of optimum health which is hard to gain can be obtained by changing lifestyles. Illness is the subjective measure of disease independent of body temperature or even the cholesterol level.
Gbophb.org, (2015). Five Dimensions of Health - Resources | General Board of Pension and Health Benefits. [online] Available at: http://www.gbophb.org/center-for-health/resources/five-dimensions-of-health/ [Accessed 14 Oct. 2015].
O'Neill, M. (2012). The Ottawa Charter: a manifesto for 'the protestor'?. Global Health Promotion, 19(2), pp.3-5.
Ronald, Weitz. (2013). . The sociology of health, illness, and health care: A critical approach. 6th ed.
Who.int, (2015). [online] Available at: http://www.who.int/about/definition/en/print.html [Accessed 14 Oct. 2015].
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