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Social Model Of Health Health And Social Care Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Health And Social Care
Wordcount: 1254 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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This essay will define the social model of health and health definitions, taking into account social health factors and influences on the social model of health. A summary will present the key findings of this analysis challenging the current effectiveness of the social model of health.

The social model of health aims to improve personal and community well-being and health by evaluating the conditions of social and environmental health causes in conjunction with biological and medical considerations (Quipps, 2011) both at local and national level working to eradicate health inequalities. Causes can be understood as social, personal, economic and environmental issues (Ottewill and Wall, 2004, p. 14) present in class, ethnicity, gender, social disability and mental health.

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The World Health Organisation determines health as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (Blackburn with Darwen PCT, 2012). The social model of health’s focus on well-being relates to a sense of happiness or being healthy (Cambridge Dictionaries Online, 2011). To obtain this all aspects of a persons life, social conditions, housing, education should be fulfilled; health is therefore multidimensional (Yurkovich and Lattergrass, 2008, pp. 439; Hilleboe, 1972, pp.139).

The impact of the social model of health and causes of social conditions are factors that can determine the perception of health conditions and the management of health needs. For example childhood health attitudes and upbringing can determine future adult health perceptions and outcomes (Toivanen and Modin, 2011). As an instance a child may not have been encouraged to exercise and in adulthood develop related health conditions; intervention in community fitness knowledge could have reduced any further health risks.

The impact from food manufactures can also influence social attitudes affecting a healthy diet such as overeating. Advertising, food labeling and the concept of convenience foods (Naidoo & Wills, 2008, pp. 177) has encouraged an inactive lifestyle, creating chronic conditions (Kirby et al., 2012, pp. 1572). This may cause heart problems, diabetes and place pressure on health services. Under the social model of health, health policy should pressure food industries to provide healthier options, alert people of unhealthy eating and encourage healthier eating as a positive state of well-being, especially in poor communities where there is a lack of available healthy food and food education (The Fat Nutritionist, 2012).

Social class inequalities determine social indifference of class status, responses and management of health perceptions (Naidoo & Wills, 2008, pp. 111) and could affect available health distribution amongst social classes such as postcode lottery (WHO, 2012), possibly leading to the exclusion of health benefits for the lower classes (McDougall, 2007, pp. 339). The social model of health aims to promote well-being and reduce social class inequalities making health available for all social classes and ensuring the access of health information, hospitals, clinics, health websites and community centres eventually leading an individual and/or community to better health choices and lifestyles (local.gov.uk, 2012). For instance should inadequate disabled legislation challenge a person’s ability to actively become a productive member of society, their condition could become institutionalising. Silva et al., (2012); Kizito, et al., (2012) suggest that free access to health services can reduce barriers to poor health of the population and increase the effectiveness of social well-being, allowing individual potential to be fulfilled. Larson (1991, p. 2) further exemplifies this concept in social health disability by suggesting social well-being can be the capacity of a person to perform usual tasks in their everyday life despite their illness.

In cases of ethnic and social inequalities access of health support and information can influence good health. The UK is culturally diverse consisting of different ethnic groups, and language barriers can impact on the understanding of these groups, which may lead to some social exclusion. Health information may not be fully understood and from a Health Survey for England found the black and minority groups are most likely to become ill (Postnote, 2007, p.1) because of a lack of understanding in social health matters. The social model of health would prescribe that health facilities and information should be formatted and made accessible in a way that can be received and understood by different ethnic groups to reduce health risks and improve social well-being. Minority mental health inequality has been previously under represented, however the social model of health would understand that minority cultural and social background issues, should be addressed by social health services to deliver appropriate health care and enable a sense of well-being (Aisenberg, 2008, pp. 297).

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In environmental conditions Seedhouse (1988) as cited in Ottewill and Wall (2004) suggested that ensuring appropriate “food, shelter and warmth” (p 4) can also support a sense of well-being and improvement of health creating a sense of security. Seedhouse further supports this concept when identifying an individual’s condition of health as equal to the circumstances surrounding them, which may affect their ability to achieve goals based on the state of their biological and mental capacity. Thomas McKeown explores living conditions further as being a critic of medical explanation’s as to the improvements of mortality rates between 1850 and 1970, determined health improvements were a result of better living conditions and nutrition (Department for Health and Aging, 2008), a basis for social well-being. The Black Report of 1980 also determined health inequalities in lower social classes were a result of poor housing and sanitary conditions leading to unhealthy life styles (Maguire, N. D.).

Socio-economic factors can also affect health, as incomes become divided lower income may encourage poor living conditions (Kawachi, 1997), and with persistent economic conditions can affect health (Watts, 2000). In gender the socio-economic status of women and men’s health can be affected through economic opportunity and prosperity (Ballantyne, 1999). The social model of health would focus on reducing economic disparities in salary to offer equal health.

To conclude, social health determinants can significantly influence the physical, mental health and well-being of a person and society to fulfil their life’s potential. The social model of health is a factor in attaining good health by recognising the benefits of improved living conditions, lifestyle choices, food and access to care. Specifically social well-being draws attention to improving social inequalities and encourages a healthy society whilst challenging government and businesses to adapt to different service users, ensuring they are not impinged by their illness. In evaluation, the social model of health is not diverse enough and could benefit from broadening itself in conjunction with medical concepts, and push harder for inequalities to be recognised in society where poverty is commonplace, and health care practices are being ignored in hospitals and other care environments.


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