The difference between the two models of health are that the biomedical approach only considers health to be a lack of illness or disease and looks at the individual only, whereas the socio-medical approach takes into account the persons lifestyle and environment which includes many different factors which concerns society around the individual as well as the individual themself.
The level of life expectancy varies with social class as the higher class a person belongs to, the more life chances they will have as an individual. Also, studies show that the higher class a person belongs to, the less likely the individual is to make bad life choices. Therefore in theory, the individual is likely to live longer.
Whereas, someone from a lower class background who lives off a low income has fewer options when it comes to having a good physical and mental health, due to lack of resources, which contributes to low life expectancy.
For example, middle class family on a good household income, living in a developed area. The children are more likely to do well at a good school, therefore have good grades to enable them to progress further in life to achieve a good career. Having a good career will then enable them to have a stable income which will provide them more options to have a healthier and happier lifestyle, which will contribute to a longer life expectancy.
However, for example, a working class family living off a low income in a deprived area. The children will have no choice but to go to the nearest school and possibly not achieve their full potential, which will affect their career options for the future and leave them with little opportunities to have a good paid job which could have improved their quality of life. They are also more likely to drink and smoke as a result of maladaptation to the stress that their every day life brings them. This will all contribute to a lower life expectancy.
Health and well being
The level of health and wellbeing varies with social class as the higher a class the individual belongs to, the higher their income will be which will enable them to access better healthcare, eat a healthier diet and use facilities such as the gym and swimming pools etc. also, the less likely they are to be depressed therefore are more likely to maintain their physical health and take better care of their homes, therefore living in more healthy and hygienic conditions.
For example, the middle class family on a good household income, living in a developed area again.
They have more options when it comes to healthcare as they can afford to pay for private healthcare rather than waiting for treatment from the NHS. They can afford to purchase better quality food which will improve their diet and can travel to different shopping centres to save even more money rather shopping from the nearest place, as they have a car.
Also, because they have a car they are less likely to suffer with health problems such as depression as they aren’t forced to either stay at home or walk in bad weather conditions. They can afford to go on holidays and days, as well as luxuries which contribute to good mental health.
Whereas, for example, the working class family living off a low income in a deprived area. They will be forced to shop at the nearest shopping centre which they may not necessarily be able to afford to do so. They will have to stick to a budget and have to eat what they can afford to fill their stomach with, rather than what is good for their health. They will be forced to walk everywhere regardless of the weather which can contribute to depression and other problems which will affect their physical health as a result of being constantly on their feet. When they are ill they will have to rely on the NHS to pay for their healthcare and treatment which can mean the family may have to wait for a while to receive it. They have to make do with the condition of their housing which could also affect their mental and physical health if the house is damp/lacks good insulation or is nearby busy traffic/railways etc.
Living with the day to day struggle of everyday life will affect the family’s mental health and could lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety which could result in them neglecting their personal and hygiene and the ability to maintain their homes also in a hygienic manner.
Infant mortality rates
Infant mortality rates vary with social class as studies show that lower classes have higher infant mortality rates. This is because the lower class families which the infants are born into have less option for healthcare facilities, ability to improve housing conditions, a healthy diet and better mental health which are all factors which affect the infant’s development.
For example, a single mother of a child on benefits, suffering with depression and anxiety.
Her child has a basic diet which consists of cheap and processed meals as this is all the mother can afford, as she has no other income and smokes excessively to control her stress. The walls in the house have become mouldy as a result of the roof leaking which the landlord refuses to fix until the rent is paid in full. The door is broken on the child’s door which is a fire hazard which is expensive to repair therefore has been put on hold until the mother can afford to do so.
The infant in this situation is more likely to die than an infant in a middle class family on a decent household income as they can afford to prevent hazardous and harmful living conditions, as well as being able to provide a healthy diet for their child.
- Evidence that supports the socio-medical model for health is the statistics that show the higher rates for infant mortality and life expectancy within the lower classes. Also, when sanitation and council housing was improved, as well as free healthcare provided by the NHS coming into place, studies show that death rates and infant mortality rates fell and life expectancy then increased.
The Black Report also supports the socio-medical model as the four possible sociological explanations to health all conclude that social factors were the main factors which contributed to health and wellbeing.
- The merits of the socio-medical approach to health include:
- The holistic view that takes everything into account such as the persons environment and lifestyle choices, therefore doesn’t rule out possible reasons as to why the person may be ill other than disease etc.
- It encourages people to make healthier lifestyle choices rather than just relying on the doctor to prescribe them drugs as a cure. This way the individual can eliminate the factors which are causing them to become ill to prevent it from reoccurring in future.
The weaknesses of the socio-medical model of health include:
- Finding out what factors are causing the individual to become ill in order to prevent it can take some time
The merits of the bio-medical model of health include:
- The biomedical model is a rather straight forward approach, as the can identify what illness/disease the individual is suffering with usually quite quickly and will prescribe appropriate drugs to cured or control the problem, rather than assessing the person’s lifestyle and environmental factors which can be time consuming.
The weaknesses of the bio-medical model of health include
- Rather than people taking care of their own health to prevent illness from occurring, such as exercise, eating a balanced diet etc. They will rely on the doctor to cure them as they can be diagnosed quickly and be prescribed drugs.
- Only concentrating on diagnosing illnesses and diseases, rather than looking at other possible factors which may contribute to the individual’s health problems, won’t necessarily improve health for the long term, as the patient will be prescribed drugs as a short term treatment until the illness reoccurs as a result of neglecting their health.
- When assessing the needs of individuals in the health and social care setting, the carer should take into account the individuals situation such as environment, such as what sort of housing conditions they are living in, how many people they live with at home, whether the individual is aware of what facilities they can access such as advice centres, jobcentres, sure start children’s centres.
Also, whether they have any support networks such as family and friends to support them. Finding out whether they have drink/drug problems and what sort of health problems they suffer with is also important as the carer can have a better understanding as to why they may be struggling in other areas.
Finding out what background they come from and how they live can help the carer to support the individual as they will have a wider understanding of what level of care they need.
In my opinion the socio-medical model is a better approach to health and wellbeing as it takes the individuals personal situation into account as well as just looking for cures for disease and infection.
Here's what a teacher thought of this essay
A strong piece of work examining two models of health & wellbeing. The writer shows a good understanding of the perspective of each model and was able to use relevant examples to illustrate the point of view. I would say that the criterion has been achieved. The only comments I would make in terms of improving the work are to remember to give the names of the ?studies? being referred to. Other than that, I thought this was a well-written and well thought-out essay. 4/5