The definitions of health can mean different things for each individual, their opinion on health may be affected by their age, gender, culture, social class, religion or lifestyle. Most individuals define health as being free from illness or injury; Health is complete physical, mental, and social well being. An individual’s mental state is extremely important when health is being assessed as it can affect different people in extreme ways. Health can be looked at in three different areas which include positive, negative and the definition by The World Health Organisation. The positive concept views health as an explanation of well-being and also relates to individual’s physical and emotional well-being, this is underlined in The World Health Organisation definition of health. For example, an individual with a disability may be seen as healthy because they live a full and happy life. The negative definition includes the concept of negative health which has a view that health is a absence of illness and takes the biomedical perspective of health for example, I don’t feel sick, I don’t have a cold. The World Health Organisation definition of health is “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. The concept has changed over time due to the fact health includes the condition of a person’s individual physical, mental and social well being, and their environmental factors which may affect their health. It has to deal with the wellness of an individual which involves working to become fitter and reach the best of their ability of their physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual health.
Ill health can produce different illnesses and disorders; Disease, illness and disability are the three categories which sociologists have decided are the three main headings in ill health.
Disease is a genetic process that healthcare professionals use to explain and understand why the human body has a problem and to understand the illness which may occur. Most diseases have similar symptoms which are used throughout the healthcare industry to diagnose a disease whatever the individuals circumstances are. This means that their health will be able to improve quicker due to the healthcare professionals knowing what to look for and how to find it certain symptoms or signs that illness, disability or disease is present.
Illness is when an individual experiences poor health, this could be known as the absence of health and the presence of a disease or an illness. Different illnesses can vary, many people that have the feeling of unwellness or symptoms of illness is associated with a lack of health for example, pain or discomfort; Disability is seen as a barrier which can affect an individuals physical, mental, emotional and social well-being. The barriers stop individuals from accessing opportunities to have a normal life, this is associated with the adapting environment where facilities are not in place to make sure individuals with disabilities can have a social life. An impairment looks at the individual as a whole and brings the day to day restriction that emerges due to a long term physical or mental condition. For example, a hearing/visual impairment, depression or anxiety. This is very similar to the biomedical model of health and illness; According to impairment, the service user has to work closely together with healthcare professionals to order restrictions which may be caused by an impairment.
The sociological perspectives that may affect an individuals health or ill health and how they each define our health and ill health, this includes the Interactionist approach and the Functionalist approach.
The Interactionist Approach is a concerned approach; This means that it worries about individual’s wellbeing and focuses on the issues of health and illness, a person’s physical and mental well being is extremely important. Interactionists focus on individual’s choice and take into account the social roles which exist in society, even though it is not visible to a person. An issue is that they don’t do not carry out research where social roles come from; They also pay a lack of attention to issues of social class and power in society. Interactionist’s say that social roles are only defined and do not explain where social roles came from. They do not explain why individuals act in a familiar way; The approach has often been defined as describing social behaviour ‘in a vacuum’ and described behaviour through gangs and relationships within Health and Social Care professionals and service users, but it is unable to explain the bigger social factors that affect this. When looking at sociology Interactionists do not focus on structures and institutions, but they do focus on complicated relationships with other individuals for example, their family, friends and their connections with professional services. Interactionist’s think that the social relationships individuals have with other people have as much influence as a medical diagnosis to decide whether an individual states themselves as being ill. The criticism of the Interactionist approach is that it only focuses on relationships and the deals that have taken place however, it fails to realise the main causes of ill health. This should include environmental factors for example, poverty, pollution etc.