Health and Illness

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Sociology Health and Illness The medical definition of health is: the state of being whole and free from physical and mental disease or pain, so that all the parts of the body carry on their proper function". This is a negative definition where health is defined as to be free from pain and discomfort. (Critchley, 1978, p.784). The World Health Organisation (WHO) definition of health (1947), states that “Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. This is a positive definition which defines health as being fit and able to undertake reasonable task. The criticisms are that the definition deals with “a state rather than a process” and puts no boundaries…show more content…
The socio-medical model of health pays attention to social factors that contribute to the health and wellbeing of individuals in our society. Sociologists support this model of health, because it focuses on the social distribution of health and illness between different groups, example the death rates vary between social classes. They believe that culture, gender, age and social class are very important when looking at how individuals see themselves as being healthy or ill. The social model is interested in the environmental and the social causes of ill health. It tends to take a preventive approach. In recent years, doctors have begun to acknowledge the importance of social influences on health, such as stress factors and lifestyle, and it has now recognised that good health is more than just the absence of disease. The World Health Organisation defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing’. (Macionis J. et al 2012 p. 741) The socio – medical model fits in more with the conflict theorist rather than the functionalists. The conflict theories explain that shorter life expectancy and the high level of ill-health among the poor, is due to the inequalities in society. Health inequalities are not only apparent between people of different socio-economic groups, they also exist between different genders, ethnic groups, the elderly and people suffering from mental health problems or learning disabilities also have

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