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Sociology - Models of Health

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Alice Ollerhead

on 13 May 2015

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Transcript of Sociology - Models of Health

The biomedical model underpins the principles of the hypothetico-deductive model and western science.
This objective view can be seen as being dispassionate or uninterested in a person's feelings and social well being, but the concentration is held on unraveling, and solving or improving conditions or injuries.
It defines health problems objectively, based on what symptoms can be recognised. Then using scientific medical treatment, it attempts to cure the problem.
The socio-medical model is a holistic model that emphasises the importance of environment being a stand-out factor in the improvement of health.
The socio-medical model also promotes prevention of illness, and continuation of care, using health promotion programmes and social schemes.
It concentrates on a person's lifestyle and social choices as the foundations of health problems, suggesting that understanding could not be gained without consideration of cultural, historical and social choices.
The 4 Obligations and Duties
There are four postulates for following the sick role;
1. The person is not responsible for assuming the sick role
2. The sick person is exempted from carrying out some or all of normal social duties
3. The sick person must try and get well as the sick role is only temporary
4. In order to get well, the sick person needs to seek out and submit to appropriate medical care
The Sick Role is a theory of Talcott Parsons (1951). It is used to define the rights and responsibilities of someone who is unwell. It is considered that people who are diagnosed as ill cannot fulfill the requirements of society and must therefore follow a particular role. By conforming to the sick role, they allow society to continue around them, preventing the deviance of illness from disturbing society.
The Biomedical Model of Health
The Socio-Medical Model of Health
The Sick Role
Unit 7, Assignment 2 - Task 1
This is important because it was the first theory of ill health. The sick role is now seen as out dated but has contributed to the formation of many theories since.
Functionalism links to the sick role of Talcott Parsons, seeing illness as being deviant. It is therefore understood that the sick role is necessary for society to function alongside illness.
Interactionalists look at health from a wider view, considering what makes people think they are ill, looking at the impact of illness on self-image, and at the relationship between the service user and the professional which allows them to reach consensus about illness.
Marxists see medicine as a way of maintaining social order and the hierarchical society. Medicine is a way of maintaining a healthy and productive workforce.
Sociological perspectives applied
Postmodernism looks at health from a holistic perspective whilst believing that the responsibility lies with the individual. There is a rejection of the authoritarian approach of the medical industry and an overall acceptance of natural cures over medical drugs.
New Right
The new right do not believe in society and therefore look to privatisation for medical support. They do however strive to fix the problem, returning the person to full health.
There are several main factors that feminists focus on in relation to medicine:
The idea that it is a largely male dominated profession
The lack of research/information on female specific conditions
The over-medicalisation of pregnancy and childbirth
These have been snippets of information about several sociological perspectives in relation to health, and models of health.
Positive Aspects
The biomedical model uses factual medical information to diagnose problems through examination, observation and testing.
Trained Professionals
Only biomedical treatment is used as a counter measure to illness; however this is provided by highly trained professionals, therefore only the best scientifically proved treatment is provided.
Cure is paramount
As it follows a similar mindset to Parson's model of the sick role, the biomedical model of health understands ill health to be deviant and temporary, making a cure of paramount importance.
Negative Aspects
Social Factors
One problem with the biomedical model of health is that it does not take into account the opinion of the service user, or social factors associated with the individual, relying solely on objective evidence gathered in a medical environment.
Removing Control
The biomedical model works on a hierarchical basis, taking the control of the condition out of the hands of the service user, and giving it to the experts.
Service user as the expert
The biomedical model, unlike the socio-medical model, does not recognise that the service user is the expert of their own condition.
Due to its commitment of maintaining order, the sick role is mainly affiliated to the biomedical model of health.
If more consideration was paid to environment and causes of the problem, it would link to the socio-medical model.
Positive Aspects
Negative Aspects
Holistic Approach
The socio-medical model looks at what makes the service user suffer, as opposed to looking solely at the condition, therefore taking a more holistic approach, also looking at environment for ways to prevent illness.
Alternative Therapies
The socio-medical model of health is much more accepting of alternative therapies, which although not proven by scientific method, have been shown to improve the condition of service users.
Health Schemes
Schemes about healthy eating, quitting smoking, safe sex and other areas are provided by the socio-medical model to promote good health and avoid bad health.
Avoiding the problem?
The socio-medical model is not necessarily looking directly at the problem, so although the long-term effect could be positive, the short term impact could be debilitating.
Blaming the individual
The choices people make depend on their peer groups, environment and other influence, like advertising. Some schemes may end up blaming the individual.
Other factors
Although environmental factors are important, it is unclear how they would treat acute difficulties at the point of illness/injury.
Walsh, M. (2011), BTEC National Health and Social Care Level 3, London, Collins Education
traineementalhealthnurse, (2012), Medical Model of Health: Sociology and Mental Health Nursing, https://mentalhealthnursetraining.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/medical-model-of-health/ [Accessed 14th April 2015]
joiezadetorres, (2013), The socio-medical model of health, [online] Available at: https://joiezadetorres.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/the-socio-medical-model-of-health/ [Accessed 14th April 2015]
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