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Free «Theories of Health and Illness» Essay Sample

1. Several models have been used to provide explanation for the links that exists between a person’s health and other factors. This paper explores the differences between three health theories that represents three different theoretical approaches: a biological approach, an environmental approach, and a sociological approach. The following models have been selected for comparison: a medical model  (the biological theoretical approach), a health belief model (the environmental theoretical approach), and a functionalist model (the sociological theoretical approach).

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The medical model emphasizes disease rather than wellness. It assumes that if a person does not have a disease, she or he is healthy. So once a disease is removed from a person’s body, he or she will be healthy. It understands health as am person’s own responsibility. Rather than looking into the causes of the disease, it focuses on prescribing medication. Overall,  it presupposes that an illness or a disease exists and stresses the importance of clinical diagnosis as well as medical intervention in disease treatment. Within this model, health is understood as the absence of disease. Thus, disease prevention is given the secondary status. Within this model the perm health care delivery is perceived as delivery of illness/medical care (“Foundation of U.S. Health Care Delivery”)

Unlike the medical model, the health belief model or HBM focuses on illness prevention rather than intervention. It explores the relationship between the individual’s beliefs and behaviors. It is used to predict whether people opt for engaging in healthy actions for the purposes of reduction or prevention of the likelihood of an illness or premature death. An individual’s behavior in terms of health action is dependent on his/her perception of four basic areas:  a) the severity of a disease that may develop; 2) the individual’s susceptibility to the potential disease; 3) the benefits brought by engagement in a preventative action; 4) barriers to engagement into that action. According to this model, two major kinds of beliefs cause people act in preventative manner: those beliefs that are linked to being ready for taking action and beliefs that are linked to certain modifying factors that either facilitate or hinder the action (Nejad, Wertheim, and Greenwood, 2005: 64).   

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Unlike the health belief model, which basically neglects the role of social and economic factors (“Health Belief Model”, n.d.), the functionalist model views the role of social institutions as the primary one. In relation to health, the functionalist model sees illness as deviance, since it leads to a person’s exemption from accustomed social roles as well as to a person’s exemption from responsibility for their condition (Parson, 1951). It imposes two obligations on a person:  to want to recover speedily and to seek a consultation of a medical expert. Unlike the medical model, the functionalist one does not address a range of factors including women’s experience, childbearing, mental or chronic illnesses, etc. Unlike the health belief model, it ignores the individual context and a range of individual beliefs. It does not consider prevention, but overestimates the role of doctors as agents of control in the society (they diagnose diseases and prescribe corrective treatment).  This model views health of a person in terms of the person’s capacity to bring benefit to the society, since every person is believed to be “a cog in the engine” (Pryce, n.d.).

 
 
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2)  Epidemiology is a study of diseases that occur in human populations. It aims at understanding those factors that affect the number of disease cases at a given time. The strengths of the study on Diet, Obesity, and Public Health are as follows: the study allows tracing the relationships between obesity and different aspects of health and it allows establishing the associations between obesity and a range of different factors on a limited sample of people, without having to explore thousands of cases of obesity (through case-control study approach in epidemiology). The weaknesses are: this study will not necessarily establish real cause and effect relationship since the indicated associations may turn out to be just coincidental (in case this limitation needs to be overcome, the experimental research should be added) (EUFIC, 2008); besides, selection bias may take place (when not all people that are actually eligible to participate in a study are chosen to be subjects); recall bias may take place (when subjects’ reports are influenced by their preconceived ideas as to likely hazard to their health); and confounding, too,  may take place (i.e. finding an association for an essentially wrong reason) (“The Four Most Common Types of Epidemiological Studies”, n.d.).  

In case with screening for breast cancer, it helps to reduce breast cancer mortality due to timely diagnoses. “It saves over twice as many as it harms”, according to the recent estimates by scientists (Borland, 2012). At the same time, it is hardly effective in establishing the causes and effects of the disease because of the nature of screening itself. This is a mammogram which is offered to all women aged from 50 to 70 free of charge once in every three years. This mammogram is capable of identifying the tumor. The weakness of the approach is its inaccuracy. Scientists report numerous cases of women who have been wrongly told they had tumors. It means that healthy patients are subject to chemotherapy or distressing surgery despite being actually healthy (Borland, 2012).

Finally, immunization is a major public health strategy which has brought positive effects in vaccinated children. The benefits of immunization to understand the causes and effects of illnesses are as follows: immunized population suffers less from morbidity and mortality rates among children, which helps to identify the positive effect of immunization. The sample of non-immunized children may be studied to understand how their health condition differs from those kids who were vaccinated. Weaknesses:  immunizations may have adverse effects on children which may be wrongly attributed to some other factors or neglected. This influences negatively the study of immunization effects and may to leads to grim consequences in children.  

   

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