The different concepts of ill health
For this assignment I will be using the following case study which was provided on the Assignment briefing sheet: ”Jason is Afro-Caribbean and is 42 years old. He has had a serious accident at work. He has several broken bones and internal bleeding, he needs extensive surgery. Doctors are unsure whether he will pull through. His family are contacted and told to attend the hospital. On arrival, his family are escorted to the visitor’s room. The doctor arrives and explains the circumstances to his family. Jason’s wife tells the doctor she would like to see him. The doctor advises against this. Jason is taken to theatre where they find he has a broken pelvis, leg, hand and knee. The doctor informs the family that they will be moving Jason to another hospital 30 miles away because they do not have the necessary expertise. Jason’s wife mentions briefly that she will not be able to travel that distance. Jason is moved. ”
When describing health there are two different models of health, these are the biomedical model of health and the socio-medical model of health. These two models try to define health.
The biomedical model of health holds the concept that if an individual isn’t diseased then they are healthy. The biomedical model of health is adopted most of the National health service and most health care providers in western society, this is because as a society we focus on treating the specific illness that is visible rather than looking what has contributed or caused it.
The biomedical model of health is adopted by functionalists because functionalists want people who are ill to try to regain good health as soon as possible; this is because functionalists see illness as dysfunctional in society. When someone is ill they cannot work and are excused from being part of society, therefore it is necessary for society that people adopt the sick role and get well as soon as possible. This is a negative concept of health because the biomedical model aims to try and only be free from ill-health.
The socio-medical model of health is a concept which looks at the other factors that are detrimental to our health; these could include environmental factors such as pollution or social factors such as poverty. The socio-medical model of health could be related to the holistic concept of health because they look at the individual as a whole and focus on trying to prevent the condition rather than treating it once the person has become ill.
The socio-medical model is a part of a conflict model; this is because those who become ill tend to live in areas which aren’t good for their health, such as, next to polluting factories or in damp environments. Those who live in better areas, the upper classes, are less likely to become ill because they will be likely to live in better conditions and are therefore less likely to need help.
In Jason’s case above, the doctors are using the biomedical model because at the moment they are focusing on his physical health rather than using a holistic approach. At present Jason needs physical, intellectual, emotional and social help, he needs physical help such as medication and x-rays but needs emotional support which his wife is most likely to provide. When Jason’s wife asked to see him the doctor advised against it, if Jason is conscious he is going to be in shock and will be traumatised, at the moment he isn’t prepared to regain his health and needs support to come to terms with what has happened.
The doctor probably advised against Jason wife seeing him because her presence wasn’t necessary towards his physical health and she wouldn’t physically be helping him. When the doctors say that they need to move Jason for specialist expertise they are thinking only about his physical needs and not his social needs, if he is moved over thirty miles away most of his support networks will be torn away and he will be alone as most people won’t be able to regularly visit him. This is a good example of the biomedical model because doctors are focusing mainly upon his physical needs, although this is most important in terms of him regaining his health because at the moment his bones are broken and someone talking to him won’t be helping to bind those bones back together again.
Considering the socio-medical model of health, Jason is probably losing weight because he is traumatised because he hasn’t received and personal support and is struggling to cope; therefore he has lost his desire to eat. He could also not be eating because he is trying to protest his resentment towards being moved away from his family and locality that he is used to. Socio-medical model of health would looks at Jason as a whole and would assess his needs, his physical need is to get better and to repair his bones, his intellectual needs are to get back into work and be stimulating his mind again, his emotional need is to accept what has happened and to come to terms with the trauma and his social needs are to see his friends and family again.
Using the biomedical model the doctor would be trying to diagnose an illness or cause for Jason not to be eating, for example, a surgery complication or a reaction to the anaesthetic. The doctors need to address Jason as a whole and if they did they would see his other needs. If Jason is left as he is he could become lonely and depressed, this could be another reason why he is not eating, he could also begin to lose faith and may give up trying to get better.
For many years there have been many arguments about the cause of mental disabilities such as anxiety and depression, the first argument is that there is an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, such as, serotonin or whether it’s caused by environmental factors such as increased stress or fear.
Both could be a cause for depression, an imbalance of anything in life could cause something to happen and life events could definitely be a factor as if something bad happens to someone it is bound to affect them in some way or another.
The biomedical model of health would say it was the chemical balance that causes depression and would therefore try to prescribe a medication to try and balance those chemicals, such as Prozac or Citalopram.
The socio-medical model would say that the depression could have been caused by many contributing factors, such as, not enough emotional support or deep upset caused by a tragic loss. It could also have been caused by social factors such as poverty or relationship breakdown.
Rather than look at the patient as a whole a biomedical doctor would be more likely to medicate the patient in a bid to get the patient better as soon as possible. This will get them back working and helping society to function as a whole.
The biomedical model is more dominant when treating illness because the drugs that are prescribed are normally proven across the world to help ease the symptoms and get the individual back to good health.
When a person is depressed, using the biomedical model the individual would be given a direct treatment towards the physical problem, this treatment would normally be anti-depressants, the drugs would relieve the symptoms and make the individual better and would get them back into society.
The socio-medical model is health is different to the biomedical model of health because the socio-medical model of health would direct the depressed person towards alternative therapies such as aromatherapy or Reiki which are good but do not always work, also there is little factual proof that they work in cases.
If I was a practitioner who used the socio-medical model of health I would assess the individual for the root causes of their depression, their depression could have been caused by deep upset over what has happened in their life, for example the death of a sibling, rather than ignore the issue of the problem and try to temporarily relieve it I would refer the person to counselling to come to terms with what is making them depressed, if there is no cause then there is no illness. However, if I was a biomedical doctor I would establish that the patient does definitely have depression, if this was the case, then I would find a suitable medication and prescribe it for duration until the symptoms have gone away. Although it is likely that the condition will return because the issue still remains.