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Posted on June 24th, 2012, by

Define the social model of health and describe the differences when compared to the medical model of health

 

Introduction

Today, the quality of health care services and the public health are the primary concerns of the modern society and policy-makers because the public health defines the well-being of the population and the prosperity of the entire nation. However, the provision of health care services of the top quality and the public health safety are hard to attain. In this respect, the choice of the model of health can be crucial for the overall success of the health care system performance and its positive effect on the public health. In this respect, the medical model of health, which used to be popular in the past, has started to give in to the social model of health, which proves to be more efficient in terms of the public health safety and maintenance of the public health.

Social model of health

In recent years, the social model of health has emerged as the alternative to the traditional medical model of health.

The emergence of the social model of heath resulted from consistent changes in approaches to health care services and public health policies. In this respect, one of the major changes that occurred in the modern society in regard to public health policies was the shift toward the development of community health care services. To put it more precisely, today, the involvement of the community in the provision of health care services, in regard to both physical and mental health care services, became the mainstream trend (Diamond, 1992, p.184). The community involvement has proved to be efficient because it facilitates the interaction between health care professionals and institutions, on the one hand, and community members, on the other.

The community-oriented health care services naturally stimulated the emergence of the social model of health (Cassidy, 1980, p.121). The social model of health places emphasis on changes that can be made in the society and people’s own lifestyle to make the population healthier. In this respect, it is worth mentioning another significant trend that contributed to the growing popularity of the social model of health. This trend is the growing concern of the population with health issues. To put it more precisely, today, people are more concerned with their health than they used to be in the past. They are conscious of negative effects of the unhealthy lifestyle on their health, including numerous threats associated with smoking, consumption of alcohol and drugs, sedative lifestyle and other unhealthy trends that are particularly significant in the modern society. Being conscious of such threats and risk, people do want to change their lifestyle to become healthier (Coddington, 2000, p.91). This is exactly where the social model of health comes into play because health care professionals assist people to change their lifestyle. In terms of the social model of health, health care professionals develop recommendations which help people to lead a healthy lifestyle. In such a way, they minimize the risk of the development of serious health problems that contributes to the consistent improvement of the public health (Fuchs, V. R. and Emanuel, 2005, p. 1399). The latter is very important today when costs of health care services keep increasing, whereas the state cannot always afford funding health care services to make them available to all citizens in the UK.

The difference between social model of health and medical model of health

Unlike the social model of health, the medical model of health focuses on the eradication of illness through diagnosis and effective treatment. In this respect, it is possible to distinguish the main difference between the social model of health and medical model of health. The medical model of health deals with the illness and its effects, whereas the social model of health focuses on the prevention of illnesses and deals with causes of illnesses because unhealthy lifestyle and lack of attention to health are major causes of the development of serious health problems in individuals, especially chronic diseases (Breneman & Taylor, 1996, p.134). In contrast, the medical model implies that health care professionals diagnose and treat illnesses but, in such a way, it is hardly possible to prevent the development of illnesses. Therefore, the medical model of health is less effective compared to the social model of health because the latter can improve consistently the public health as people grow conscious of the importance of healthy lifestyle and they can refer to health care professionals in time, if they feel any dangerous symptoms (Heimendinger, et al. 1996, p.29). In contrast, the medical model of health provides people just with the possibility to get health care services needed for diagnosing and treatment.

Conclusion

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the social model of health has started to prevail in the modern health care system. In fact, today, the social model of health replaces steadily the medical model of health. Even though the medical model of health has proved to be effective in terms of diagnosing and treatment of illnesses, it has proved to be ineffective in terms of the prevention of illnesses. In this regard, the social model of health is more effective because it focuses on the prevention of illnesses to improve the public health.

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