Since the time of Enlightenment, Western ideas of health have been dominated by the biomedical approach. The basis on which these opinions are founded is that an individual is not responsible for their illness and that the mind and body work separately from each other. Health, in the eyes of this approach can be deemed as simply the absence of disease. Part of the reason this vision of health has dominated so much, is that it’s practiced by the majority of the health professionals and is the staple of the care received in hospitals. The aim of this assignment is to demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of this system, and to suggest the advantages that using a social model to view health could bring. Discussion
Health, is a word that carries a broad spectrum of meanings, it is defined differently in all walks of life. Biomedical health although being the most recognised is not the only approach and has been called by Naidoo and Wills (200, p.9) “a narrow view of health”. The social Model contrasts this approach. It focuses on the social and economic factors regarding health and looks at ways to prevent illness before it occurs. Even in the most affluent countries, people who are less well off have substantially shorter life expectancies (Marmot and Wilkinson, 2003), a social view on health would take this information into account, placing emphasis on improving the quality of life to increase life expectancy. Contrastingly the Biomedical method would look at a patient and prescribe necessary medication, although usually being effective in the short term, this would do nothing to stop the person getting ill again as they would return to the same unhealthy lifestyle or environment. This could be seen as impersonal, but this scientific approach can be useful in many scenarios as it has been said by Pearson, Vaughan and FitzGerald(2005, p54) that “the overriding concern for the patient is for cure and control of his or her disease, and this model gives clear direction in this respect”. The Biomedical Model has strengths in the sense that illnesses are not always caused by environmental or lifestyle related factors. Rather than trying to explain the illness, it searches for a cure. Biomedical science can give instant relief to people who are suffering or in pain, for people involved in accidents and emergency situations this approach is second to none. It accepts accidents are sometimes unavoidable and concentrates on restoring the individual to health in a direct manner. Discarding freak accidents the social model could prove useful. Wilkinson and Marmot(2005, p24) state “individuals turn to alcohol drugs and tobacco, suffer from their use, but it is influenced by the wider social setting” . Upon taking this statement into account, it could be argued that the social model would have a greater effect in reducing the number of people turning to drugs or alcohol. The biomedical approach would examine the physiology of the situation in an attempt to understand why an individual might become dependent on a drug. The treatment might consist of giving the patient another drug to help them come off the substance they are using, but the social method would encourage support groups or the 12 step method that was first practiced by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). This method was originally brought about in the 70’s and involves patients admitting they are powerless to alcohol and coming to believe that a greater power can restore them to health. Although it had much success, it didn’t take account for those who did not believe in religion. Since then non twelve step programs have been brought about that focus on counselling patients on how to take control of their lives. Many centres that practice this method such as the Narconon Freedom Centre(NFC) claim to have a 70% success rate. It is apparent that both biomedical and social models have their place in treating addicts and biomedical science could definitely benefit...
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