Health, according to the World Health Organization; is “a condition of full physical, emotional and social well being and not just the absence of sickness and disease.” A number of definitions have also been applied to the concept of health. Some have even defined it as the condition that one gets when he comes out of the cave. Some others believe that health is not a commodity that can be bought or sold, but rather a state of mind. Still, most people agree that health is something that we should strive to attain and maintain throughout our lives.
The concept of health is a complex one. Most doctors, however, attempt to simplify health by dividing it into two areas. One deals with the factors that affect the physical well-being while the other deals with the factors that affect the person’s mental well-being. Factors that affect the physical well-being include the physical condition of an individual, his physical health, his personality, his habits, his lifestyle, and his genes.
Meanwhile, the concept of health care is concerned with aspects that affect the welfare of an individual after his life tenure. It includes his health, his well being, his life expectancy, his death expectancy, and his social support networks. These social support networks include his family, friends, and other groups that he belongs to. In this light, it is not surprising that life expectancy is considered a factor in health care.
The concepts of health and disease are interrelated. The increase in the level of violence in our society has led to an increase in the level of stress and depression, and these factors together can lead to poor health outcomes. The increasing complexity of causative factors has, in turn, led to changes in the definition of healthy and unhealthy, thereby adding complexity to the concept of health and disease.
Most researchers concentrate on five broad sets of socially determinants. These are population size, sex, lifestyle, socioeconomic status, and health status. They conceptualize these as five separate but interrelated factors. By classifying a person into one of these categories, they attempt to capture the effects of the influence of these five factors on health status. The most commonly used classifications are as follows: average health, poor health, fair health, good health, ideal health, high health, and ideal health status.
Among the five key determinants for health, two are social and environmental factors and the other five are behavioral. The level of each has been found to be influenced by environmental factors. However, the level of each determinant may vary according to individual characteristics.