Most people usually think of health as the absence of disease. It is true that not feeling sick is one important aspect of health. Just as important, however, is having a sense of optimum well-being-a-state of physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual wellness. Scientists and health educators have developed two main ways to define health: The Medical Model an The Wellness Model
The Medical Model of health' s
The medical model of health' s main tenet is that health is the absence of one or more the "five Ds" - death, disease, discomfort, disability, and dissatisfaction. In other words, if you are not sick, disabled, or clinically depressed, you are defined as healthy.
The medical model relies almost exclusively on biological explanations of disease and illness and is interpreted in terms of malfunction of organs, cells, and other biological systems (e.g., liver dis- ease, heart disease, or osteoporosis). In the medical model, the absence of health is determined by the presence of observable or measurable symptoms. In times of sickness the restoration of health is accomplished by successfully treating the underlying cause of the disease. If that is not possible, then the goal is to alleviate symptoms.
The medical model tends net to deal with soaal factors that affect health and only with difficulty integrates mental and behavioral issues that do not derive from diseased organs. In the medical model, health is restored by curing a disease or by restoring function to a damaged body part. Furthermore, the medical model rarely considers psychological and social factors in the cause, diagnosis.
For example, overweight and ebesity. which are a worldwide pandemic, are caused in most instances by overconsumption of low-nutrient food and by too little physical activity. Rather than addressing personal living habits and social conditions, the response of the medical model to overweight and obesity is to treat patients with drugs, surgery, or both to alter the biological aspects of the condition.
The Wellness Model of Health
If freedom from sickness isn' t all there is to health, then what else is involved? The World Health Organization (WHO) employs a wellness definition of health, as follows: health is "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity." This definition is so broad and covers so much that some people find it meaningless. Its universality. however, is exactly right. People' s lives. and therefore their health, are affected by every aspect of life: environmental influences such as climate, the availability of nutritious food, comfortable shelter, clean air to breathe, and pure water to drink, and other people, including family, lovers, employers, cowokers, and friends.
Health is not something suddenly achieved. Rather, health is a process, a way of life, through which you developed and encourage every aspect of your body, mind, and spirit to interrelate harmoniously as much of the time as possible. Health means (1) being free from symptoms of disease and pain as much possible, (2) being active, able to do what you want and what you must at the appropriate time, and (3) being in good spirits and feeling emotionally healthy most of the time.
The wellness model emphasizes self-healing, the promotions of health, and the prevention of illness rather than solely the treatment of symptoms of disease. Consider, for example, how the wellness model views the headache. Although a headache can be the result of brain injury or the symptom of illness, more often it is caused by emotional stress that produces a tightening of the muscles in the head and neck. These contracting muscles increase the blood pressure in the head, thereby causing the pain of headache.
The medical model advocates relieving a headache by taking aspirin or some other drug that can alter the physicological mechanisms that produced the pain. In contrast, the wellness approach advocates determining the source of the tensions-worry, anger, or frustration and then attempting to reduce or eliminate it.