Biomedical models and how social trends can affect it as a dominant model of healthcare


In this essay I will be discussing the biomedical model and how the social trends might be affecting it as a dominant model of healthcare. Also I will be explaining the alternative models that could be emerging with supporting examples.

What is biomedical modelBiomedical model theory is based on illness and health that focuses on biological factors than psychologically. Health and illnesses were supported by traditional medicine and the traditional scientific approaches to illnesses. It explains how bodies function in a mechanical way and that illness can be a result of injury. This approach is probably one of the easy model’s to understand as it is very specific and underlines causes for the health, e.g. strong painkillers for a muscular pain or antibiotics for infections. It tends to look for the causes and diagnose the treatment. In this way this model gained more dominancy over the centuries. for instance in the 16th century, a lot of people were involved in the health care sector, but back in those days there weren’t much technology. The popularity was with the spiritual healers, quacks and even barber-surgeons, diseases were identified in the 18th century, by this time health care awareness had increased, hospitals were developed, care for the sick were available locally all through private funding or charitable donations. More improvements were made in the 18th century, e.g. public health and hygiene received more attention. The use of vaccination came out in the 18th century for the smallpox. Smallpox is a highly contagious transferable disease and there was not any precise treatment for this other than a vaccination to prevent the symptoms. Still in both centuries training for professional was never compulsory or even qualifications. It was really what you knew and how you knew it. Even then surgical tools weren’t sterile or hands weren’t washed or no use of hand sanitizer. It was only in the 19th century when legislation had been passed to make sure all the doctors had a higher level medical training, this is when more people got knowledgeable and were aware of different medicine and health conditions. As the century progressed laws were passed to correct the health concerns, and the death rate began to drop although epidemic diseases such as typhoid, cholera and measles were not controlled by any vaccination. Diseases started to spread quickly in grimy and congested areas.

Social trends do affect the model as the dominant model of healthcare, because the model used modern western medicines that focused on the treatment than prevention. Social trends such as casual work, housing, social classes, environment factors had good and bad affects on this model reason being is because there was a major differentiation between the rich and poor, health and unhealthy. The poor class could only work when work was available and that’s only on a low wage so therefore could only afford basic accommodation and contribute minimum food for the family. Due to the poor housing condition, sanitation was very poor as the accommodation probably only assist in one room sometimes with no toilet or bathroom. These factors caused bad health condition such as chickenpox, smallpox, cholera whereas those who had money living conditions were much better with better jobs with good wage and good accommodation with food on the table., these people more fit and healthily. Social inequalities factors were present at the time for e.g. the gender- women seemed to suffer more physical and experienced mental health than men. Women’s hormones and reproductive system made them more liable to mental and physical ill health. Lower class women did not get the same access to health services than upper class women. Whereas men suffered excessive drinking habit, this where biomedical model came right in to, and tried to contribute to that extent to broader political and public debate about the lives people want to lead and the community they wanted to live in also the future impact they wanted to create.


The biomedical model is the dominant view of health and illness held by health officials, doctors and nurses etc. it’s crucial theory is that illness can be acknowledged and classified for example, neurological disorders, psychological disorders. So it claims things such as bacteria, faulty genes, virus cause illness, and if you can’t see the cause it can’t be proved as an illness. However there are many alternative models emerging with the biomedical model. One that’s challenging the biomedical model is Iatrogensis (Illich, 1976); Illich criticised that the medical professionals had medical human behaviours, for experiences seen as a normal part of the human condition such as pregnancy and childbirth, ageing and dying have all been brought under medical ‘control’ and examination. Hence he used the expression iatrogenic illness to illustrate any illness caused by health care. That’s why the health care focused on the treatment than prevention. He argued that medicines were harmful to individuals and many drugs having side affects which needing reviewing. Medical interventions lacked any real evidentiary basis, really they were just acknowledged. This did not sop Illich, he went on to define what he called Social and Cultural Iatrogenesis. Social Iatrogensis claimed health issues and medical problems. Medical bureaucracy creates ill health by increasing stress, lowering the levels of tolerance of discomfort and abolishing the right to self-care. Cultural Istrogenesis was an erosion of traditional ways of dealing with pain and disability; for example painkillers would be given to severe pain.

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