Question Bruce Health

What are the strengths and limitations of the biomedical model of health?

What are the strengths and limitations of the biomedical model of health?

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Answer Internal Staff

The biomedical model of health focuses primarily on the biological and physical aspects of disease, suggesting each illness has one underlying cause, and once the cause has been removed, the individual will be healthy again. Health care professionals utilise this model in association with diagnosis, cure and the treatment of disease however, unlike the social model, it does not address the social, economic and environmental determinants of health. The biomedical model has been around since the mid-19th century and it is the predominant model used today by physicians in diagnosing disease. Its persistence in healthcare is undoubtedly due to the huge advances and success in medical research – microbiology, biochemistry and pathology etc. that has resulted in the discovery and development of drugs and drug-based treatments that has allowed medical scientists to conquer and treat many diseases. Although it is the primary model used by physicians, it has its limitations. As it is based on the premise that every disease is caused by a specific pathogen and treatment can be accomplished by the use of medical procedures, it disregards the fact that sickness can have social determinants. The model tends to regard the human body as a machine, and the disease is seen as the malfunctioning of biological mechanisms that can be corrected, either physically or chemically by a physician. The concept of ‘health,’ which the World Health Organisation (WHO) defines as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being”, is disregarded in this model as it presumes an individual’s state of health is a biological fact.