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

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inappropriate or outdated statistical analytical models.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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