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'Outline and asses the biomedical model of health and illness.'

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'Outline and asses the biomedical model of health and illness.' (60 marks) The most dominant theory in Modern Western medicine of health and illness, held by many official health practitioners such as doctors, consultants, and surgeons has been labelled the 'biomedical approach' or by some as the 'biomechanical model'. The biomedical model presumes that illness is always due to abnormalities in the body's workings. It is the basis of modern Western medical practice. It works on the theory that if a part of the body goes wrong it should be fixed or replaced, in the same way that a machine would be repaired. It is a reductionist view of illness. This means that it takes the simplest possible cause of the illness and applies the simplest cure. It's unlike other models such as the social model as that looks to other factors and focuses on them, such as culture, and social aspects. The biomedical model has an emphasis on an Illness being treated and hopefully cured, for example with the use antibiotics can be use to treat infections. Biomedical treatments often involve the removal of the cause, for example the virus or bacteria. ...read more.


Other approaches such as the biopsychosocial model takes a different approach to health and illness. It is not reductionist and attributes ill health to five factors; ecological systems such as the atmosphere, ecosystems and other life forms that we live with, social systems such as our culture and family, psychological systems, like emotion, behaviour, biological systems such as our organs tissues and cells, and lastly physical systems such as molecules and atoms. All of these factors can affect us individually, causing illnesses. These factors can be split into two categories; micro levels, which are physically small factors such as hormones, and macro levels, which are more visible factors such as culture. Taking the example used to illustrate the biomedical model of health, heart disease, may be described by the biopsychosocial model as being caused by; a culture of unhealthy eating or smoking, a family situation where others smoke causing passive smoking, a hereditary disposition to the disease and the patient himself smoking. Ken Browne suggests that putting to much empathises on the social aspects and the expense of the medical model, as medicine has indeed help to contribute to improvements in health, for example childhood inoculation (TB, MNR). ...read more.


This, within the functionalist's perspective, has serious consequences on the functioning of society, for if everyone was sick society would no longer function. It is suggested within this perspective that there is a sub-conscious or conscious desire to be ill. Thus the "sick role" is created, as a functioning role within society. The "sick role" has it's own rights and responsibilities, which include being exempt from work, and pampering from carers. This model suggests that biological analysis alone is inadequate, and suggests that social factors need to be considered. However this "sick role" is a dangerous creation and could lead to a subculture of "sickness" to which people are drawn to because of the release from responsibilities. However this perspective relies too heavily on the "over-socialised" concept of society. Not everyone accepts and adopts the "sick role", many would ignore the role and soldier regardless, and for example many disabled people do this. Overall at this point the evidence presented seems to be inconclusive and unable to support a specific model, within this discussion. Therefore it's concluded that there needs to be more of a joint model of health and ill health such as the new realists approach, which takes into account both medical and social aspects of health; giving a more well rounded definition of health. Word count: 1,262 ...read more.

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