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The biopsychosocial model

The biopsychosocial model is an approach to understanding health and illness that considers biological, psychological, and social factors as interrelated and influential on each other (Engel, 1977). It is a holistic approach to understanding health and illness that considers multiple influences. It recognizes the interplay between biological, psychological, and social factors on health throughout a person’s lifespan (Bolton & Gillett, 2019).

Social dimension

The social dimension of this model refers to the role of the social environment, culture, and relationships in affecting health outcomes and behaviours. For example, social factors such as socioeconomic status, education, access to health care, social support, and discrimination can influence the risk, prevalence, and treatment of various physical and mental health conditions (Verywell Mind, 2023). Social learning theory also suggests that people learn by observing and imitating others in their social context, which can shape their attitudes, beliefs, emotions, and coping skills (Physiopedia, n.d.). Therefore, the biopsychosocial model emphasizes the importance of assessing and addressing the social factors that contribute to health and well-being, as well as the biological and psychological ones.

Psychological dimension

The psychological dimension of the biopsychosocial model refers to the thoughts, emotions, and behaviours that affect a person’s well-being and risk for illness. For example, psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, coping skills, personality traits, and beliefs can influence how a person perceives and responds to pain, chronic disease, or disability (Verywell Mind, 2023). Psychological interventions such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, mindfulness, relaxation, and psychoeducation can help people manage their symptoms, improve their quality of life, and enhance their resilience (Physiopedia, n.d.). The psychological dimension of the biopsychosocial model is not isolated from the biological and social dimensions, but rather interacts with them in complex and dynamic ways. For instance, psychological factors can affect the functioning of the immune system, the endocrine system, and the nervous system, as well as influence health behaviours such as diet, exercise, smoking, and medication adherence (Wikipedia, n.d.).

Biological dimension

Biological factors such as genetics, hormones, inflammation, and infection can affect psychological factors such as mood, cognition, and motivation (Bolton & Gillett, 2019). Similarly, social factors such as family, culture, education, income, and access to health care can affect psychological factors such as self-esteem, social support, stigma, and discrimination (Helpful Professor, 2023). Therefore, the psychological dimension of the biopsychosocial model is an essential component of understanding and promoting health and wellness.

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Current psychology uses the biopsychosocial model to assess, diagnose, and treat mental disorders, as well as to promote mental health and prevent illness. For example, a psychologist may use the biopsychosocial model to understand how a client’s genetic predisposition, cognitive style, and family environment interact to contribute to their depression. The psychologist may also use the biopsychosocial model to design an intervention that addresses the client’s biological needs (e.g., medication), psychological needs (e.g., cognitive-behavioural therapy), and social needs (e.g., support groups) (Papadimitriou, 2017).

References

Bolton D., & Gillett G. (2019). The biopsychosocial model of health and disease: New philosophical and scientific developments. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Engel, G. L. (1977). The need for a new medical model: A challenge for biomedicine. Science, 196(4286), 129-136.

Helpful Professor. (2023). Biopsychosocial model: Examples, overview, criticisms. Retrieved from https://helpfulprofessor.com/biopsychosocial-model/

Papadimitriou, G. N. (2017). The biopsychosocial model 40 years on: A critical overview. Psychiatriki, 28(1), 3-10.

Physiopedia. (n.d.). Biopsychosocial model. Retrieved from https://www.physio-pedia.com/Biopsychosocial_Model

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Physiopedia. (n.d.). Biopsychosocial model. Retrieved from https://www.physio-pedia.com/Biopsychosocial_Model

Verywell Mind. (2023). Understanding the biopsychosocial model of health. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/understanding-the-biopsychosocial-model-7549226

Verywell Mind. (2023). Understanding the biopsychosocial model of health. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/understanding-the-biopsychosocial-model-7549226

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Biopsychosocial model. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biopsychosocial_model

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