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The Ever Changing Concept Of Health

2765 words - 11 pages

With the dominance of medicine over the past two hundred years many historical health concepts have gone through various changes. The definition of health is dependent on one’s perspective, be it lay, professional or from influences of specific cultures or social ideals and health policies of a particular time or place (Fleming & Parker 2012, p.30, Naidoo & Wills 2000).
An exploration through history will reflect on the health philosophies of the ancient Greeks and Romans, the Middle Age’s concept of quarantine and isolation and the religious theories of disease including a brief insight into the renaissance. Subsequently, a discussion of health concepts of the past two centuries including 19th century sanitary reform, the dominance in the 20th century of the medical model of health care. This paper will look at the shift away from the medical model and the 21st century concept of health promotion and multidisciplinary care, using allied health professionals. I will argue that attention to the achievements and failures of the historical concepts of health, equips allied health professionals with an opportunity to objectively decide which of these practices have relevance or are useful in developing new approaches for positive health outcomes.
In ancient times religion and science were tied in together when it came to health and everyday living. The ruins throughout Greece and Italy stand as testament to their ingenuity with creating and building infrastructure, but also of the people’s belief in the power and influence of the ancient Gods to heal illness (Krieger 2012, p.47, Hays 1998, p.9). According to Tountas (2009) the ancient Greeks were the first to break with mystical notions of health re-orienting ‘medicine toward a more naturalistic and humanistic perspective’ to define health as ‘equilibrium between man and his environment’. The Greek scholar Hippocrates’ (c.460BC–c.370BC), defined the humoral conception of health, [the Four Humours], with the balance of these being responsible for health, interacting together with lifestyle and environment, including individual constitution, clean air, diet and clean water. He noted in his writings, regarding the workers and slaves, that neglect of diet affected their health, yet, work was not considered an influencing factor on humoral balance (Tountas 2009, p.186-187, Fleming & Parker 2012, p.28, Turner 2000, p.13, Krieger, pp.43-44, Noviik and morrow, 2008, p.5). Others such as Empedocles, Aristotle and later Galen extended Hippocratic humoral theory to link other elements (Hays 2009, pp.9-13). No matter which variation, these theories were an attempt to rationalise individual incidents of sickness and the differences in health status in the populace in relation to ‘underlying principles and environmental exposures’ (Krieger, p.46). According to Krieger (2011, p.47) Greek politics had influence stating ‘not only nature but politics informed the conceptualization of “balance” in Greek humoral...

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