Social And Behavioral Science For Health Professionals

Social And Behavioral Science For Health Professionals

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Social And Behavioral Science For Health Professionals

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Social And Behavioral Science For Health Professionals

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Discuss about the Social and Behavioral Science for Health Professionals.

Illnesses and health issues are inevitable in human lives. The aforementioned are brought about by various determinants of health amongst them, sociological determinants. This essay will, therefore, venture deeply into two sociological perspectives of health and outline the major arguments between the two. Also discussed in brief will be the biomedical model, its significance in health determination and its relevance to health practitioners of any social setting.
The study of human social institutions and relationships is known as sociology. As a subject, it covers all aspects of human life; religion and crime, family and state settings, health issues amongst others (Wani, 2017). At a personal level, sociology digs into the social causes of things such as gender and racial identity, family conflicts, aging issues, causes of illnesses and poor health and religious faith affiliations. At the societal level, issues considered include crime, law, poverty, and determinants of health and illnesses amongst larger groupings of people. For the analysis of all the aforementioned, sociology implements various approaches known as perspectives to obtain the best results. For health practitioners, however, sociology is of much importance in their career paths as it explains occurrences of diseases and approaches available to remedy spread or treat such illnesses in the community (Hinote & Wasserman, 2016).
Biomedical model of health has dominated amongst all health determinants. Here, rather than using sociological and/or psychological arguments to determine the causes of illnesses amongst individuals, health researchers focus on scientific, physical and biological aspects to establish the causes (Yuill, Crinson, & Duncan, 2010). This model exerts more emphasis on diagnosing and treating people based on findings different from lifestyle conditions. Doctors’ attention is diverted to reverse the physical health of an individual to a pre-illness state. Establishing the external causes of an illness is therefore not the epicenter of this model. For all individuals, this is the first model that comes into their minds when they think of health care. The key figures that are deemed important in this model are doctors and hospitals as the main focuses of medicine and other curative interventions.
The core expectation is usually that a doctor is in the position to ‘fix’ the patient’s condition while the patient plays a passive role (Davis & Gonzalez, 2016). It is, therefore, a doctor’s responsibility to identify the illness or disease after performing diagnostic tests or through observation of symptoms that exhibit in the patient. Some of the most diagnostic tests performed include; scans, X-rays, blood tests, mammograms, and ultrasound. Upon completing the examination stage and establishing the disease or illness, the doctor is again tasked with coining the most suitable intervention to implement on the patient for curative purposes (Nicoll, Lu, Pignone, & McPhee, 2012). The most common interventions are; medicine prescription, hospitalization for advanced and patient-centered care and surgical operations if need there be. From the above description, it is therefore clear that the biomedical model is of much value in clinical research and practice.
There are various sociological perspectives on illnesses and general health. The functionalist perspective is based majorly on the works of Emile Durkheim, Robert Merton, Herbert Spencer and Talcott Parsons. Collectively, their arguments point out that, illnesses are forms of deviances that interrupts the communal functions of a society (Clarke, 2013). The ability of individuals to perform their duties and responsibilities in the society is impaired by ill health. If too many people are therefore unhealthy, the stability and functioning of the entire society suffer adversely. Parson further added that this was true particularly on incidences of premature deaths. He argued that such deaths hinder individuals from performing all their social roles to completion and subsequently, negative returns are incurred on the society based on the various costs of prenatal period, delivery, child upkeep and socialization of the person who dies.
According to Parsons, for an individual to be considered validly ill, there are several expectations that ought to be met. First, sick persons should not be viewed as the causals of their own illnesses (Kendall, 2016). If, for example, a drunk driver hits a tree and ends up incapacitated, people are most likely to show less sympathy than if the driver had been driving sober and was hit by another vehicle driving on the wrong side. Secondly, all sick people must possess a desire to get well quickly. If any ill individual does not want quick recovery or, they are viewed as counterfeiting their illnesses, or indolent even after recovering, people in close contact with such an individual or even the society in general no longer considers them as legitimately sick.
Third, it is everyone’s expectations that sick people will have their illnesses confirmed by qualified physicians or healthcare specialists (Annandale, 2014). They are also expected to follow instructions given by physicians attending them to the letter for them to recover in the minimum time possible. If all the three expectations are not met, an individual does not qualify to play the sick role and cannot be exempted from their obligations. Parson further stated that diagnosing the person’s illness, deciding how to treat it and managing the individual until they recover are roles to undertaken by physicians.
The second perspective is known as The Conflict Approach. According to Karl Max, this perspective exerts much emphasis on political, social or material inequality in a social group. It also critiques strongly socio-political systems that detract from ideological conservatism and structural functionalism (Weitz, 2016). Globally, there exist great discrepancies in the quality of health and health care provided in various localities. Such inequities are expressed along races, social classes, gender and ethnic lines. It goes without saying that people from social backgrounds that are disadvantaged are on higher risks of getting ill. Accessing healthcare due to its inadequacy in their areas of residence or due to financial constraints is therefore deemed hard and their chances of getting well are minimal.
Over the past decades, there have been numerous efforts by physicians aiming to control the practice of medicine and subsequently define a wide range of social problems as medical issues being been motivated both positive and negative factors (Larkin, 2011). This has borne numerous critiques from the conflict approach. The positive motivator is that they believe in being the best and most qualified personnel to diagnose health issues and treat them. On the negative side, they realized that by succeeding in the characterization of social problems as medical ones, they could boost their financial statuses greatly by monopolizing their treatment. Two examples are used to demonstrate this perspective’s critiques as illustrated henceforth in details.
First, alternatives to medicine have increased but are receiving an equal increment of criticism by physicians who are aware that such alternatives will bring more harm than good to their financial statuses (Ballantine & Roberts, 2013). Many people with eating disorders, for example, seek aid from physicians; dieticians to be more specific. Though this care is often helpful, this issue has its roots in societal and /or cultural backgrounds and could, therefore, be effectively managed with little or no physicians’ intervention. Nonetheless, physicians who treat it secures some good income from this practice. They are therefore against medicine alternatives and deem them as inadequate, dangerous or even ineffective.
In the other example, a large number of children who are hyperactive are now being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). About a generation ago, they would have been merely described as overly active. However, upon the development of Ritalin, a drug known to reduce hyperactivity, this behavior was redefined as a medical problem (Brent & Lewis, 2013). Subsequently, diagnosis of ADHD was progressively applied as thousands of parents took their children to physicians’ clinics where Ritalin or similar medications were prescribed to them. Definition of this behavior as medical matter obscured the potential causals of the problem in stultifying schools, inadequate parenting or even gender specialization owing to the fact that most hyperactive children are mostly boys.
Both the biomedical as well as the sociological determinants of health are worth considerations by health practitioners. The biomedical model on one side tends to be more acceptable and common in the society we are living in today. It additionally receives over 90% of the governments’ funds set aside for healthcare purposes (Annandale, 2014). To a greater extent, this model also seeks to establish curative measures to health problems rather than just defining their causes. On the other side, sociological models aim more on cultural conservatism. Media platforms could, however, be used to educate people on various sociological perspectives of health for them to make unbiased and informed decisions when seeking healthcare services (Kendall, 2016). With the advancement of technology, nevertheless, some perspectives such as the Conflict Perspective could only win very few supporters as the majority of people are after quick relief to health complications.
In conclusion, it has been established that in healthcare settings, biomedical carries more weight in relation to solving health issues and illnesses in comparison to sociological models. Medical practitioners, therefore, base much of their profession on the biomedical model. Functionalism perspective addresses the whole society by focusing on the functioning of its constituents which are; customs, norms, institutions, and traditions. This perspective further views the entire society as a complex system with all the constituents, nonetheless, working collaboratively to promote stability and solidarity. Lastly, Conflict perspective strongly discards explanations of social problems as the inadequacies of individuals which are instead societal flaws. With a combination of knowledge derived from this essay and further research on more sociological perspectives, the entire healthcare field can be positively changed by healthcare practitioners.
Annandale, E. (2014). The Sociology of Health and Medicine: A Critical Introduction (2, revised ed.). Wiley.
Ballantine, J. H., & Roberts, K. A. (2013). Our Social World: Introduction to Sociology. SAGE Publications.
Brent, J., & Lewis, S. (2013). Learn Sociology (illustrated ed.). Jones & Bartlett Publishers.
Clarke, A. (2013). The Sociology of Healthcare (2, revised ed.). Routledge.
Davis, J. E., & Gonzalez, A. M. (2016). To Fix Or To Heal: Patient Care, Public Health, and the Limits of Biomedicine (illustrated ed.). NYU Press.
Hinote, B. P., & Wasserman, J. A. (2016). Social and Behavioral Science for Health Professionals. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Kendall, D. (2016). Sociology in Our Times: The Essentials (11 ed.). Cengage Learning.
Larkin, M. (2011). Social Aspects Of Health, Illness And Healthcare (illustrated ed.). McGraw-Hill Education (UK).
Nicoll, D., Lu, C. M., Pignone, M., & McPhee, S. J. (2012). Pocket Guide to Diagnostic Tests, Sixth Edition (6, illustrated ed.). McGraw Hill Professional.
Wani, I. A. (2017). The Sociology: A Study of Society (illustrated ed.). Educreation Publishing.
Weitz, R. (2016). The Sociology of Health, Illness, and Health Care: A Critical Approach (7, illustrated ed.). Cengage Learning.
Yuill, C., Crinson, I., & Duncan, E. (2010). Key Concepts in Health Studies (illustrated ed.). SAGE Publishers.

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