Biomedical of Health

The biomedical model of health states that the individual is not responsible for their illness and that the mind and body work independently from each other. Ogden J, (2004) However, for example, in the case of an individual who is suffering from an eating disorder i.e. bulimia, this indicates that there is a clear link between the mind and body due to the sufferer vomiting after ingesting food; therefore resulting in the sufferer being responsible for their physical illness due to psychological illness.

The biomedical model also suggests that treatment is to change the physical state of the body and that only the medical profession can treat the sufferer but in this case; this would be very problematic due to the mind causing the physical illness and the sufferer only being treated for the physical symptoms which would therefore result in a reoccurrence of the illness due to the psychological needs of the sufferer being overlooked.

In this example the sufferer would also be involved in the treatment of his/her illness by aiding in the change of their psychological behaviour, promoting healthy behaviour and lifestyle and the education of preventing ill health. The biomedical model did provide the foundations for Engel’s biopsychosocial model of medicine.

According to Ogden, J (2004) Engel’s biopsychosocial model of medicine viewed the individual as a system made up of biological, psychological and social aspects.

McLaren, N (datastarweb online 2001) criticises Engel’s model by stating that it didn’t satisfy any sense of a model as a formal, working representation of an idea and at most could be classed as a theory. He also suggests that all Engel offered was an emotional case for humanity and less medical technology. Munitz, H et al (datastarweb online 2000), suggests that Engel’s psychosocial aspect of the model remains in the dominance of patient and doctor communication and that he was interested in sensitivity and humanity being applied in medicine.

The biospychosocial model aims at treating the whole of the individual and not just the physical symptoms. This is through the biological (e.g. viruses, bacteria), psychological (e.g. behaviour) and social (e.g. employment, class) factors that can affect health. Ogden, J (2004).

The model aims to give the health professional an holistic view of the individual, therefore making prognosis easier and treatment can be varied through a more humane and emotional approach along side a medical approach.

Engel p, (cited in Munitz H, et al datastarweb online 2000) wrote a responding letter to Mr Greenberg; the editor of the paper written by Munitz et al, in the letter he states his father when alive argued that speech creates a pathway to information that would not be available by any other means which has a special value in understanding the individuals illness and disease. I believe that the biopsychosocial model of medicine is a more human and emotional model that aims to understand and help the individual as a whole.

The application of psychology to health is beneficial to the individual by emphasizing the medical, psychological and social factors that contribute to the cause and effects of health and ill health. Health professionals can analyse all the factors that can affect the individual’s well being and aim at treating the person as a whole. (i.e. Medical professionals can treat the medical factors, Counselling for psychological factors and Social workers/ Community workers for social factors).

Health psychology can be crucial in the promotion of health by understanding how unhealthy behaviours can contribute to ill health; for example high blood pressure or smoking can be related to a person who has suffered a stroke.

The understanding of the individuals ‘beliefs’ that contribute to unhealthy behaviours would help by targeting the ‘belief’ to ensure the promotion of health and the prevention of ill health; for example a smoker might ‘believe’ that a cigarette calms them down and therefore smokes, however it may be the actual taking time out to have a cigarette that helps the individual relax and not the cigarette itself.

To aid in the prevention of illness the changing of behaviour and beliefs would be crucial. Health professionals could help aid in the prevention of ill health by helping the individual attend sessions that are individual tothem (i.e. stop smoking sessions, counselling or dietary advice), therefore resulting in the promotion of health.



Ogden, J. (2004) Health Psychology – A textbook, 3rd edition. Berkshire, Open University Press.

Electronic Sources

Datastarweb online 2005

Munitz, H et al (2000) The biopsychosocial model of medicine revisited. Accessed: March 17th 2005

Mclaren, N (2001) A critical review of the biopsychosocial model. Accessed: March 17th 2005