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Causes of change in the health of populations: a biopsychosocial viewpoint

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By Arnetz BB • www.ProHealth.com • September 10, 1996


In the current review, a biopsychosocial perspective is applied to
current changes in the health of populations. It is proposed
that the psychosocial environments either promote health or
precipitate disease. Changes in the types of stress that
people experience as well as its prevalence over time are
discussed. In addition, possible biological mechanisms
linking the psychosocial environments to health are presented.
"Food for thought" is the possible interaction between the
physical/chemical and the psychosocial environments and
changes in health of individuals. Clearly, our traditional
view of disease mechanisms is not sufficient to understand
recent phenomena, such as environmental illness and chronic
fatigue syndrome. Issues worthy of further discussions are
the role of the "just-in-time" society, where individuals
increasingly have to change jobs, cope with reorganizations
and increased production pressure, and its impact on health
and well-being. Further, in what way can we develop better
models to truly assess the impact of an increasingly complex
interaction between individual and environmental factors on
health? A major obstacle to enhancing our understanding of
causes of change in the health of populations is the use of
inappropriate or outdated statistical analytical models.
Finally, it is suggested that prospectively controlled
studies of the impact on health of changes in the health and
welfare systems are carried out. This would further add to
our understanding of factors contributing to changes in the
health of population.




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