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Sociological Perspectives to Health and ill Health

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Sociological Perspectives to Health and ill Health essay

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In this assignment I will write an essay which will explain how different sociological perspectives can be applied within Health and Social Care, I will use two different sociological approaches to health and ill health to help explain this. I will then Assess the biomedical and socio-medical models of health by creating a short scenario describing an individual in a form of ill health, then assessing whether the biomedical and socio-medical models of health would be more beneficial to the individual. P2- Explain different sociological perspectives to health and ill health.

The definitions of health mean different things for different individuals, their opinion on health could be affected by different factors such as their age, gender, culture, religion or lifestyle. Some individuals define health as being free from any illness or injury; Health is an individual’s physical, mental and social well being. A person’s mental state is extremely important when health is being assessed as it can affect different people in extreme ways for example, if an individual’s mental health is deteriorating their physical health will suffer too; Some individuals may start not eating or begin to eat large amounts of food this can cause an eating disorder, meaning their overall health will deteriorate and continue to get worse. Health can be looked at in three different areas which include positive, negative and the definition by The World Health Organisation. The positive area views health as an explanation of well-being and relates to individual’s physical and emotional well-being, this is mentioned in The World Health Organisation definition of health. For example, an individual with a disability may be seen as healthy because they live a full and happy life.

The negative definition includes the concept of negative health which has a view that health is a absence of illness and takes the biomedical perspective of health. The World Health Organisation definition of health is “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. The concept has changed over time due to the fact health includes the condition of a person’s individual physical, mental and social well being, and their environmental factors which may affect their health. Ill health can produce different illnesses and disorders; Disease, illness and disability are the three categories which sociologists have made the three main headings in ill health. Disease is a genetic process which healthcare professionals use to explain and understand why the human body has a problem and to understand the illness which may occur. Most diseases have similar symptoms which are used throughout the Health and Social Care industry to diagnose a disease whatever the individuals circumstances or symptoms are.

This means that their health will be able to improve quicker due to the healthcare professionals knowing what to look for and how to find it certain symptoms or signs that illness, disability or disease is present. Illness is when an individual experiences a type poor health, this could be known as the absence of health and the presence of a disease or an illness. Different illnesses can vary, many people that have the feeling or symptoms of illness is associated with a lack of health for example, pain or discomfort; Disability is seen as a barrier which can affect an individuals physical, mental, emotional and social well-being. The barriers stop individuals from accessing opportunities to have a normal life, this is associated with the adapting environment where facilities are not in place to make sure individuals with disabilities can have a social life. An impairment looks at the individual as a whole and the day to day restrictions and issues which emerge due to a long term physical or mental condition.

For example, a hearing/visual impairment, depression or anxiety. This is very similar to the biomedical model of health and illness; According to an impairment, the service user has to work closely with healthcare professionals to order restrictions which may be caused by an impairment. The sociological perspectives that may affect an individuals health or ill health and how they each define our health and ill health, this includes the Interactionist approach and the Functionalist approach. The Interactionist Approach is interaction in everyday society between people in a small social scale rather than the country population; this can be talking to friends or family, the interactionism perspective focuses on how we act and our behaviour throughout society.

The Interactionist perspective is an approach that worries about an individual’s wellbeing and focuses on the issues of health and illness, a person’s physical and mental well being is extremely important. Interactionists focus on the individual’s choice and take into account the social roles which exist in society; The first issue is they do not carry out research where social classes come from. Interactionists pay a lack of attention to issues which include social class and power in from society. Interactionists believe that social roles are only defined and do not explain where social roles came from; They do not explain why individuals act in a familiar way, the approach is defined as described behaviour through gangs and relationships within Health and Social Care professionals and service users. But it is unable to explain the bigger social factors that affect this.

When looking at the area of sociology, Interactionists do not focus on structures and institutions, but they do focus on complicated relationships with other individuals. For example, an individual’s family, friend or even connections with professional services. Interactionists believe that the social relationships people have with other individuals have as much influence as a medical diagnosis to decide whether an individual decides whether they are ill or not for example, usually when an individual is ill they would typically ask their friends or family whether they thought their symptoms were serious enough to seek professional medical advice and declare themselves as ill. The negative side of the Interactionist Approach is that it only focuses on relationships and the factors which have taken place however, it fails to realise the main causes of ill health. This should include environmental factors for example, poverty, pollution, lifestyle and other factors.

The Functionalist perspective is each individuals contribution to society and the effects it may have. The approach was first theorised by the theorists Emile Durkheim and Talcott Parsons. Parsons believed that too much anomie (freedom) was bad for an individual, this is due to the fact individuals have no rules or structure so they are more likely to commit crimes or take part in illegal activities. Functionalists see society as being similar to the human body, in the same way the body relies on the heart to pump blood around to other vital organs like the lungs and brain.

The functionalism approach considers how health and ill health is looked at from the work of Talcott Parsons; Parsons said that in order for society to work effectively and efficiently, individuals should be healthy. Parsons defined ill health as being a type of inconvenience and individuals with ill health must perform it as a type of a social role which is known as the sick role. This became a common approach in sociology of health and illness, the rights which are linked to this approach include that you have to be free from a social act for example, going to work/ college or paying tax. Another right is to be cared for; Parsons saw this as one of the main functions of a family who cared for the unwell, sick and other family members who relied on the family group. The responsibilities which are linked to this approach includes the individual to take reasonable steps which will help improve and continue their normal role in society as fast as possible.

Healthcare professionals such as GPs, doctors, nurses and the government, state that illness is due to social consequences which is individuals and their relationships with the community in which they live resulting from an action or decision. The negative side of the approach includes that it did not focus on the various areas of conflict which looked at the characteristics of modern society and may be found in other societies. The functionalism approach is developed that all societies have the same common values, opinions ,beliefs and the agreement to what values and beliefs that are in society, which is a set of ideas which create and build a foundation of the socialisation process and the working of main institutions. Functionalists created an image which the socialisation process is never unsuccessful and did not have the knowledge to give an explanation of bad behaviour, especially in various types of deviance. For example crime or abuse, which shows negative stability in society as a whole.

M1- Assess the biomedical and socio-medical models of health. In this part of my assignment I am going to create a short scenario regarding an individual describing them in a form of ill health. Then I will use the scenario to assess whether the biomedical and socio-medical model of health would be more beneficial to the individual and why. Scenario; Steven is an unemployed male who is 30 years of age, Steven has two children who he does not currently have any contact with due to being a former drug addict, the drugs caused steven to ask violent around his former wife. Steven has recently been released from his latest prison sentence, now the individual is living in poor conditions in an extremely bad area. The poor housing which Steven is living in has caused certain health problems for the individual such as asthma from the mold and damp on the walls and ceiling.

The Biomedical of health is a scientific measure that doctors and other healthcare professionals use to find out reasons behind different illnesses and disease. This model only focuses on the biological reasons behind illness. The biomedical model of health psychology assists the healthcare professionals in treating the service users psychologically, the healthcare professionals can help the service users to change their beliefs to overcome their illness or health issue. The biomedical model of health is based entirely on biological factors in an individual’s life, which focuses on scientifically based treatment. Diagnosis are performed by tests and observations on an individual rather that looking into depth of an individuals history and feelings.

The biomedical model of health believes each illness or disease has one treatable cause however, this model of health will intervene when an individual is classed as or is experiencing ill health. This model of health is shown to be successful for the diagnosis and treatment for various diseases and is based on scientific knowledge and research. The biomedical model focuses on the cures for different illnesses and diseases which affect individuals like Steven. The model believes that health can be restored by various techniques for example, surgery, drugs or other treatment.

The model relies on facts and testing in the biomedical field and that ill health can be found by diagnosis putting into consideration signs and symptoms. This means the biomedical model can help the individual Steven by assessing his signs and symptoms of illness and compare them with other individuals illnesses or disease. Once a healthcare professional can outline the individual’s illness they and start a course of treatment to improve the individuals health. A positive of the Biomedical model is that it can identify genetic sources, this means that the healthcare professionals are able to help Steven and look into his health in depth. A genetic source is changes and mutations in a person’s body.

The negative side of the Biomedical model is that it fails to include the social factors which can be main influences in an individual’s health and ill health. The service user does not play a big part to restore their body back to health, when trying to restore the body back to health the Biomedical model treats the body and the mind completely differently, the healthcare professionals in charge believe that finding a cure for the illness is more important than finding the prevention. The Biomedical model fails to address the illness or medical condition that does not show physical signs and symptoms; The government focuses too much on the facts and figures of ill health, the clinical iceberg shows that under half of the population seek medical health whilst the majority of the people do not ask for medical advice. The socio-medical model is an approach to health and illness that identifies health as the absence of illness and disease which focuses on diagnosing and finding the cure for individuals with a specific illness or disease. This model focuses on the individual as a whole, this means it looks into their background, environment and lifestyle. The socio-medical model plays a large role in improving health by fighting the illnesses and disease and saving the lives of others; The model believes that individuals with a higher social class are less likely to develop an illness than individuals which are part of a lower social class.

This is due to the fact that in poverty or a lower social class individuals are more likely to suffer from health problems such as respiratory issues. The positives of the Socio-medical model is that it encourages individuals to live healthy lifestyles and helps maintain healthy living, the model looks at the causes of the illness and diseases. The sociomedical model tries to improve the factors in an individual’s life that cause illness and prevent the disease from happening again, it is used and understood by healthcare professionals who believe that health is improved when social conditions are improved. This can help the individual Steven as the Sociomedical model will look into Steven’s lifestyle, environment and personal life this means that the healthcare professionals will find the cause of the problem and will be able to prevent it from happening again. The negative side of the sociomedical model includes that it does not look at the biologica side and causes of disease or health issues. This can take a long period of time to improve the environmental factors for example, moving house or into a nice area.

The sociomedical model does not have a clear method to identify or arrange health issues, it is unable to explain illness and health problems where there are no signs to make a full diagnosis. In conclusion, I believe that the sociomedical model is the better option of care for the individual Steven. This is due to the fact that it is used by many healthcare professionals because it is an easy field to understand, it takes a range of factors into account such as the environment, lifestyle and personal choices rather than focusing on one thing. The Sociomedical model looks at the wide picture of a person and the root of health problems such as disability, the model is able to provide a full and detailed explanation for the improvement and deterioration of an individuals health.

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Sociological Perspectives to Health and ill Health. (2019, Jul 19). Retrieved from