Wellbeing And Illness In View Of The Biopsychosocial (BPS) Model

“Health is a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”. The Biopsychosocial (BPS) model theorizes that our psychological factors (such as neurotransmitters, genetics, and mental health) interact with our physical health, as well as our behavior (schemas, attribution styles, culture) and social and environmental factors (poverty, family trauma, and so on). The advocates of the model believe that diagnoses that deal with social, biological, and physiological factors. While medical answers are developed for the question "why do people get sick?" the Biopsychosocial model pushes that question to "why else do people get sick?". From what the BPS model informs us, the human body and mind are complex and must be understood holistically and not narrowed to only one section. The model theorizes a relationship between mind, environment, and body and how each aspect has it effects on the other. In order to further understand this theory about health and mind, different frameworks have been developed to comprehend.

Firstly for context, the Biomedical model was elaborated in the 19th century from the Greek physician Galen and focused on the concept of removing a pathogen from the body instead of the prevention of day-to-day wellbeing. On the other hand, George Engel (1977) proposed the BPS model to gain further insight into health and the attachment to the mind. The core steps to follow in the BPS model are the cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for psychosis, management of medication, symptoms, and relapses, and family interventions. Although, the execution was more complex than expected as concluded from the study Suls and Rothman (2004).

Suls and Rothman (2004) analysis the three factors of the BPS model (Biological, social and psychological as well as macro variables) are integrated within the area of Psychology. For that to be accomplished, the researchers read, classified, and collected the data in every article printed inside a Psychology Journal in a year. The collection and coding of data was specifically a search for the three listed factors above within those articles (which researchers used biological, physiological, and or social factors). Results concluded that 26% of the studies included all four variables and thus considered qualified for the BPS model. On the other hand, since only a fourth of the studies, much more research and development are needed before it is expanded into a larger field of Psychology. Yet, it is no lost cause. This study, although, includes limitations such as having no context based themes (meaning words could be taken out of context and been classified with a different intention). As well as not specifying which journal is used which reflects a possible bias towards what the study aimed to show.

The study also shows that 94% had the minimum of two factors, while 36% included three. And so, with these given percentages it is seen how the larger field of medicine is going with openmindedness in regards to the ideology of the BPS model, which will allow the BPS model to grow and thrive. Another study that is implementing these factors is Svenberg et al (2009) which captured the idea of the BPS model with analyzing experiences from Somalian refugees living in Sweden. The aim of the study was “to capture and the authentic meaning and message behind the words of Somali refugees living in Sweden when interviewed about their health”. To accomplish that, 12 Somalian refugees living in Sweden for at least 20 years and held a casual conversational tone following the question "How do you feel about your health?". A scribe verbatim was recording as much as possible, so the researchers would go back and try to find a meaning behind words used. The results concluded that the reoccurring theme the refugees lived which was a "life of exile" and that residing in Sweden made them feel sicker more often due to how the refugees viewed their life in Sweden in comparison to what it used to be in Somalia. This was due to the lack of manual labor and exposure to sunlight they experienced in Sweden versus in Somalia. A limitation of the study includes its lack of generalizable potential due to the inclusion of refugees from specific locations and a specific amount of time. Additionally, it was a small sample size (with only 13 people, 8 men, and 5 women) with lack of ecological validity. Yet, there was a richness in data they would not be reachable with qualitative data. Through the lens of Psychosomatics (meaning mind and body connected), psychological factors and psychical factors go hand in hand, and this study showed that.

To conclude with, the BPS model holistically explains wellbeing and illness in a contempt way. It enforces the ability to look at the human being in parts to connect them like a puzzle (and not from only one perspective). Due to the fact, the model is still fairly new (presented about 20 years ago), with the help of time and research more evidence will support the interwinding of the three big factors that are the psychological, social, and biological. As well as the weight each factor has with wider variables such as culture. Overall, as seen in the Suls and Rothman (2009) study and the Svenberg et al () study the BPS model is leading us to a new branch of health care that includes more than simply the biological branch we focus on in the present.

15 April 2020
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