Health and Ilness Topic Entire

All my notes for health and illness for the entire year.


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SCLY2 - Health and Illness
Health and Illness
`Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of
disease or infirmity'. ­ WHO
In British culture we generally require some physical evidence to qualify us as being `ill'
Also in British culture we sometimes will `judge' whether someone deserve sympathy for being `ill'
If they are see as undeserving we may not believe they are really ill
The definition of illness in our culture depends on a number of issues such as:
Who is doing the defining?
The presence of physical evidence
How deserving is the person who is `ill'
If a medical professional is defining illness they will use a specific set of criteria and tests
However if a non-medical professional (layman) is defining whether someone is ill it depends on a
range of different factors.
· Blaxter (2004) ­ the lay beliefs about health are: `commonsense understandings and personal
· It is a subjective state that varies between one person and another
Different Definitions of Illness
Cultural Differences
· Different cultures may have differing ideas of what constitutes health and illness
· Some cultures use parts of their body to symbolise psychological problems.
Krause (1989)
· Researched into Sikh and Hindu cultures and found an illness called `sinking heart'.
· This used to describe the emotional experiences and psychological issues such as shame.
· In British culture this `illness' does not exist.
Age Differences
Children are very quick to define themselves as ill, without any `real evidence'
Adults generally use indicators / key factors to determine if they are.
They may assess their lifestyle, or seek advice if anything goes against the norm.
Older adults accepts many more aches / pains than other age groups and just put this down to old
Blaxter (1990)
· Young people tend to define health in terms of fitness
· Older adults tend to define it in terms of being able to cope with everyday tasks
Gender Differences
Hilary Graham (2002)
· Men tend to have lower a number of doctors appointments and a lower level of illness than women
· What are the reasons why men have lower number of doctors appointments?
· Childbirth

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· Menopause
· Some men view being ill as a threat to their masculinity.
· It makes them vulnerable and may be reliant on someone else, which they may not like.
· Women on the other hand are `allowed' to be vulnerable
Social Class differences
Blaxter (2002)
· Working class people were more like to accept higher levels of illness than middle class people.…read more

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Kleinman (1988) - The model focuses on the disease (scientific side) rather than the illness (the patient
Complementary Model
The recent years in western society there has been a growth in complementary/ alternative
medicine. (CAM)
E.g. Herbal remedies, acupuncture, homeopathy, reflexology.
The number of non-medically trained registered therapists in the UK reflects the rise in popularity.
1981- 13,500 registered therapists
1997- 50,000 registered therapists
There are also thousands of medically trained healthcare professional who practice CAM alongside `drug'
therapy.…read more

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No scientific evidence that therapies work (pseudo effect?)
People may reject medical treatment and get worse/illness develops
Could be `Fake healers' ­ money making scheme
Making people worse
Therapists are not fully trained- only their `treatment'
Traditional/Non- Western Model
In traditional societies (before the invention of medicine) and non-western societies, illness is seen as a
result of a wider range of factors then just the body.
In Chinese medicine health is the result of the balance between two powers (body and mind).…read more

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Differences across time Differences across culture
o Black teeth in Tudor times was consider to be o Lip disks/ piercings considered attractive
wealth o Suri tribe
o Bigger people in Tudor times considered o Larger people considered a sign of wealthy
attractive o Japan ­ female faces, very petite/slim
o Pale skin
o Victorian, pale/ green eyes, red hair.…read more

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Creation of ideal body by the media.
Post modernists say the human body are now projects ­ we try to control and mould them.…read more

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Disability Discrimination Act (1995)
· This is the key legislation in the UK to ensure people with disabilities are not discriminated
against.…read more

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Clarke (1992):
The stigma can be worse if the person is seen to have `brought' it upon themselves.
· The abnormal stigma model and the concept of stigma support the view that disability and the body
are socially constructed
Different impairment model
· Disability is not socially constructed.
· It is due to an individuals physical or mental impairment
· The source of the `problem' is located with an individuals health (not society)
It allows them to be `excused' from certain obligations.…read more

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Health Inequalities
Life expectancy: The worlds average life expectancy (both sexes) is 66.57 (United Nation)
UK's average life expectancy is 80:
Men 78.1
Women 82.1
Much more likely to have a higher life expectancy if you live in London or the south east.
Lower life expectancy in Scotland and North England.…read more

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Explanations for the differences in health between social classes
The artefact approach
Something observed in a scientific investigation that is not naturally present, but occurs as a result of the
investigation procedure, the link between class and health is not real but a statically illusion.
Illsley (1989)
Argues that the statistical connection between social class and illness exaggerates the situation.…read more


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