The biomedical and biopsychosocial models have been two significant approaches as ways of attempting to decipher the pathways of health, disease, and well-being. The traditional biomedical model considers disease to be primarily a failure within the body, resulting from infections, accidents and inheritance and does not regard any social and psychological aspects of illness within the model. The biopsychosocial model is the predominant model of understanding illness today by incorporating the social and psychological factors into the prevailing biomedical model. It is a better way of understanding how health and illness are affected by many levels of systems, from molecular to the societal, and how these can affect the overall well-being of the patient. There are many differences between the two models and so these two models will be compared and contrasted with each other to show how each understands illness and how it maintains health and well-being for individuals and society.

History and the Biomedical Model 
Back in the nineteenth and up to the early twentieth century, most of the diseases present at that time were infectious diseases that spread and killed many rapidly, for example, measles, lupus and small pox. Therefore at that time, physicians assumed that diagnosis was a relatively objective process and that reducing the pain that the patient was feeling simply meant removing the cause of the illness (Reeves, 2005). Consultation between patient and physician were seen as unnecessary as the illnesses were self-evident.

The medical model that developed from this view was the predominant model for understanding and treating illnesses for over a century in Western societies. It only focused on the root causes of disease and illness by focusing on the aetiology and the pathologic processes involved in disease and did not take into account any social, psychological and behavioural dimensions of illness. Research that was undertaken was primarily focused on faulty genes, bacteria and viruses, assuming that these could be identified, classified and then be removed by treating with the appropriate medical disciplines.

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The Biopsychosocial Model 
The idea of a biopsychosocial model was proposed in the 1970’s by George Engel, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at the University of Rochester, who suggested that there was a need for a new medical model for explaining health and illness. Health needs were decided that they were not being met, with many complaining that physicians were lacking understanding and interest and in addition, biomedical research was not having sufficient impact in human terms. Thus the new model that arose from this idea is the biopsychosocial model. It is now the ...

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