Concepts of Health

2369 words 10 pages
As humans remain different in nature, so are their perceptions and response towards certain issues of their lives and well being. The concept of health assumes to be a typical example of this and hence, poses debate about what it is. “Health” is a word which means different things to different people (Ewles & Simnett, 2003). This essay intends to critically discuss the meaning of health by exploring different definitions and their contraindications.

Naidoo & Wills (2000) defined health in two main ways: the positive approach, where health is viewed as a capacity or an asset, and the negative approach, which emphasises the absence of illness, diseases or disorders. “Health” as defined by the World
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Health is therefore, seen as a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living; it is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities.”

These definitions have been viewed from many different perspectives and Blaxter (1990) has highlighted a variety of definitions that people use to measure being healthy. People often say they “have health”, “are healthy” or “live in a healthy society”. We claim “healthy appetite” and healthy attitudes. Others declare they are healthy just because they live in democracies, families, or happy in their own way. From a lay persons’ point of view, Blaxter (1990) revealed that my idea of “being healthy” would be free of illness and disease, to be physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally stable and to be able to make independent choices and decisions about my life.

The definition of health does not only vary between individuals but between groups of people. William (1983) identified a social class differences in the concept of health. He found that the middle class have more positive view of health, as something linked to enjoying life, being fit and healthy. However Calnan (1987) found that working class women had very narrow views of health and given enough time during interview, less educated people can express very complex and varied definition of health (Blaxter,


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