Models of Health. What are the key elements, advantages and disadvantages? Introduction This report will focus on and explain the key elements of the biomedical model of health and the biopsychosocial model of health. These models will be analysed and compared by the effectiveness of their contributions to health. It will show the advantages and disadvantages of each model and that while there are advantages of these models, the disadvantages can impact on the effectiveness towards the healthcare system. The Biomedical Model The Biomedical Model is defined as “a concept of illness that excludes psychological and social factors and includes only biological factors in an attempt to understand an individual’s medical illness or disorder” (Biomedical Model, 2012). According to the biomedical model, the human body is a machine that needs to be repaired (Bonney et al., 2016). This could be why the biomedical model only focuses on biological factors towards the cause of disease since a machine would not be effected by psychological, social or external factors such as the environment. This model is considered to be the dominant way for doctors to treat their patients since doctors are more likely to focus on their patient’s biological abnormalities rather than the external causes of the symptoms (Williams, Wilborn and Joseph, 2017). Advantages An advantage of the biomedical model could be that trained medical specialists adopt a detached approach where treatment should be neutral and value free. Another advantage could be that trained medical specialists are considered the only professionals for diagnosis of disease, this could possibly decrease the mortality rate of serious illnesses by seeking appropriate medical advice rather than folk treatments or healing techniques (Giddens and Sutton, 2016). Disadvantages There are a number of disadvantages or criticisms made about the biomedical model. The biomedical model has been accused of disregarding the opinions of patients. Modern medicine is based on understanding the causes and treatments to illnesses rather than listening to patients understanding of their illness, the patient’s opinions are seen as crucial to their own treatment (Giddens and Sutton, 2016). Marxist sociologists in the 1970’s said that the biomedical model is a distraction from social causes of illness, therefore not taking other important factors in to account. It is possible that illness can reoccur if not all factors are investigated, this could potentially be a waste of medical resources (Bonney et al., 2016). Doctors often lack the knowledge to treat the major causes of death in the 21st century. The job of the doctor is to validate reasonable illness for the benefit of patients, possibly meaning that the title of a doctor exists to make patients feel more secure about their health (Lawson, Jones and Moores, 2000). Effectiveness towards health Social historians have argued that the effectiveness of the biomedical model towards health has been overemphasized, this is because social, economic and environmental changes are mainly responsible for the improvements in public health. According to McKeown 1979, improved sanitation, cheaper food and improved sewage were more effective in reducing mortality rates in infants than medicine. Drugs, antibiotics and improvements within surgery were also not largely effective with reducing mortality rates until the 21st century, by this point public health had already been improved. This therefore supports the argument of social historians in that the effectiveness of the biomedical model is overemphasized. Clinical iatrogenesis is a term that is used when medical treatment makes a patient worse than their original illness, an example could be MRSA (Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) in hospitals. This would not be effective towards health since patients are hospitalised in the attempt to treat them, not make their health worse. The Biopsychosocial Model The Biopsychosocial Model is defined as “a conceptual model that assumes that psychological and social factors must also be included along with the biologic in understanding a person’s medical illness or disorder” (Biopsychosocial Model, 2012). The biopsychosocial model says that no single illness, patient or condition can be reduced to just one aspect and that all three levels (biological, psychosocial and social) are equally relevant in diagnosing illness (Ghaemi, 2009). The biopsychological model is therefore similar but different to the biomedical model since the biomedical model is only interested in the biological component of illness. Advantages An advantage of the biopsychosocial model could be that healthcare professionals have more of a patient centred relationship, meaning that they will listen to the concerns or opinions of a patient rather than disregarding opinions. Listening to patients concerns and opinions could therefore help in the likelihood that a cause to an illness is found related to external factors (Borrell-Carrio, Suchman and Epstein, 2004). Another advantage could be that the biopsychosocial model has allowed the biomedical approach to expand and consider all factors that cause disease. The biomedical model of health worked well with diseases caused by one agent at the end of the 19th century but once newer diseases, with multiple risk factors and causes, were introduced the model was suddenly proven to be insufficient. The biopsychosocial model of health has provided the greatest contribution to in regards to the development of preventative programs within public health (Havelka, Despot Lucanin and Lucanin, 2009). Disadvantages A disadvantage of the biopsychosocial model could be that although external factors are considered, biological factors are still prioritised over the external factors and therefore the basis of the biopsychosocial model is unclear (Havelka, Despot Lucanin and Lucanin, 2009). The biopsychosocial model can assume that all mental illnesses are biopsychosocial, this can therefore increase stigma towards mental illnesses and may cause patients to be misdiagnosed. Another disadvantage of this model could be that many factors are considered, for example, social causes can include primary and secondary relationships, religious beliefs and work history. All of these factors may be inappropriate to consider when trying to analyse a patient’s symptoms (Varnekar, 2014). Effectiveness towards health As mentioned in the advantages above, the biopsychosocial approach has provided the greatest contribution towards development of preventative programs within public health, this could be linked to vaccinations, screening or preventative advice to patients. This could therefore decrease the risk of infectious diseases or genetic conditions from occurring or spreading and reduce the illness within a community. The biopsychosocial model has expanded the biomedical approach since it considers multiple factors, this could therefore have a positive effect on health since illnesses could be accurately identified based from these factors rather than just from a patient’s symptoms. This does not mean that the biopsychosocial model is not at fault in regards to effectiveness, assuming that mental illness is solely biopsychosocial could have a negative effect on healthcare and society. Conclusion This report has explained the key elements behind the biomedical and biopsychosocial models of health. It is clear that the biomedical and biopsychosocial models have a number of advantages and disadvantages between them and that some of the advantages and disadvantages cancel each other out. The report shows that these models are effective towards health in some aspects but are not as effective in others.