April 07, 2014
Psychologists past, present, and future desire the answer to one basic question; “what factors influence a person’s physical and mental health are they related if a relationship exists”; thus Health Psychology emerged. In pursuit of the answer several models or perspectives came about. Over time psychologist realized that focusing on one causal factor results in partial information for analysis of health and illness. Thus, the biopsychosocial model became the primary perspective used and is the focus of this paper. “This perspective recognizes that biological, psychological, and sociocultural forces act together to determine an individual’s health and vulnerability to disease; that is, health and disease must be explained in terms of multiple contexts” (Straub, 2012, p. 16). Achieving an understanding of biopsychosocial perspective requires a description of the systems and three contexts of this theory, examination of the influence of this theory on the biomedical viewpoint, and examination of how the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors influence a person’s health. Through a hypothetical scenario an illustration of the ways in which all three factors interacts and influences an individual’s health and well-being will emerge to reaffirm understanding. Three systems and contexts
The biopsychosocial model consists of systems and three contexts: immune system, endocrine system, nervous system, and cardiovascular system, as well as biological context, psychological context, and social context. As most humans know the immune system is how people fight off disease and illness. If the immune system is weak then the disease or illness will take over and weaken its host. The endocrine system is the glands within the body and the hormones produced by the glands. The nervous system controls the glands through stimulation. The hormones released from the glands interact throughout the body to maintain homeostasis. The nervous system comprises the brain, the sensory organs, the spinal cord, and all the nerves connecting these organs with the rest of the body. The primary job of the nervous system is controlling the body and communication within its parts. The cardiovascular system is the blood, blood vessels, and the heart. The primary job of the cardiovascular system is to carry oxygen, nutrient, cellular waste products, and hormones within the body. All these systems work together to keep the body functioning and healthy. If any system is weak for any reason the body is vulnerable to disease and illness. The systems work together within the human body, but they also interact with the biological context, psychological context, and social context to influence health and well-being (Albery & Munafo, 2008). The biological context examines how genetics influence health. The psychological context examines how psychological influences (coping strategies) affect health and illness. The social context examines how social influences (culture, family, society….) affect health and illness. These systems and contexts work together like the gears of a clock to influence an individual’s health and well-being. If a gear gets nicked the clock starts to slowly lose time, but repair the gear and the clock is good as new. This is true of the biopsychosocial model of health and well-being also. The biopsychosocial model was not the first model psychologist used to explain health and well-being it was the biomedical model. Influence on Biomedical Model
The biomedical model considers the absence of disease is physical wellness. This model is good practice but it has limitations. The biomedical model focuses on health and well-being as biological issues with biomedical solutions (Sutton, Baum, & Johnston, 2005). On the other hand, the biopsychosocial model takes into account the whole person leading to...
References: Albery, I. P., & Munafo, M. (2008). Key Concepts in Health Psychology. Thousand Oaks, Ca: SAGE Publications.
Marks, D. F., Murray, M., Evans, B., & Estacio, E. V. (2011). Health Psychology: Theory, Research, and Practice 3rd Edition. Thousand Oaks, Ca: SAGE Publications.
Straub, R. O. (2012). Health Psychology: A Biopsychosocial Approach 3rd Edition. New York, NY: Worth Publishers.
Sutton, S., Baum, A., & Johnston, M. (2005). The SAGE Handbook of Health Psychology. Thousand Oaks, Ca: SAGE Publications.
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