Biopsychosocial vs Biomedical Model to Deal With Diseases

Categories: DiseaseMedicare

While the biomedical and biopsychosocial models delineate what illnesses result from, both follow very different approaches in what they consider the essential etiology of illnesses. Prevailing for more than 20 decades, the biomedical model predominated the practice of medicine with its approach that postulates that all diseases are caused by the disruption of a biological process that alters the normal functioning of a body. That is, a disease has a direct correspondence to its biological pathology with no regard for the role of other factors contributing to the disease.

This model’s chief concern is the illness rather than promoting health.

The approach the biomedical model uses is helpful in diagnosing medical-related diseases, however, although it follows a recognized scientific approach, its limitations are clear, as it overlooks the role of other factors, such as the social and psychological factors that might be credited for particular diseases. Moreover, its belief that medical approaches are the only route to establishing effective treatments contradicts illnesses recognized today, such as psychosomatic illnesses.

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Furthermore, the model’s assumption that certain behaviors are attributed exclusively to biological issues, diminishes or even removes the responsibility of actions from individuals. For example, consider an individual who got arrested for a theft felony numerous times. After multiple sessions with his psychologist, he is diagnosed as a kleptomaniac. His psychiatrist prescribes medication to decrease his habitual stealing and his psychologist extensively continues psychotherapy with him. After a few more sessions, the patient feels he’s not improving and starts to think there might be an underlying medical cause for his condition.

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He visits his local doctor who is solely known for his medical interventions that ‘cure whatever complaints any patient has’. Using the biomedical model, this doctor would probably conclude that the behavioral issue of this patient (compulsive stealing) is caused by a disruption of a certain biological process, thereby, absolving the patient from the responsibility of facing the consequences of his actions. Here’s how this could go wrong:

The patient may discontinue his medication and therapy because of what his local doctor claimed.

The patient may continue stealing (a consequence of stopping any potential help his prescribed medication could have offered) using his disorder as an excuse to do so, and therefore assuming that getting arrested again won’t have dire consequences.

Reflection Journal

More widely accepted and applied, the biopsychosocial model, is primarily concerned with how social, psychological, and biological factors play a role in the causation of an illness. As its name purports, the biopsychosocial model views the balance between the multitude of these three factors as indicative of health. Here’s how the biopsychosocial model differs from the biomedical model’s approach to dealing with diseases:

While the biomedical model emphasizes illness as its concern, the biopsychosocial model focuses on promoting a healthier lifestyle and preventing illness. This model wants healthy people to become even healthier rather than waiting for a diagnosis of an illness to revert unhealthy changes in their life through social, behavioral, economical, and cultural practices. It states that there is causal relationship between health and illnesses. For example, Giselle loves playing outdoors during winter, but due to her inherent bronchial problems, her lungs are not able to respire well while running in the extremely cold weather, and so she experiences wheezing and has difficulty breathing while doing so, risking an infection in her lungs. This potential illness could be triggered by a behavioral factor. Giselle can definitely prevent this from happening by not running in the cold weather or by avoiding playing outdoors during winter because of her condition which makes her prone to illnesses at this specific time.

The biopsychosocial model supports the idea that health is not merely the absence of an illness. On the other hand, the biomedical model postulates that health is merely the complete absence of an illness, which is not necessarily correct. For example, consider a patient that has a healthy BMI, has no cardiovascular issues, and is healthy in all biological aspects. However, when he goes for an MRI scan, areas of his brain indicate that he might be suffering from a potential bipolar disorder that he is not aware of. This individual is physically healthy, but is mentally suffering. From a biomedical sense, this individual is not in a healthy state since he does not meet the required condition (absence of disease) to be healthy.

Going through adverse events & situations in life is difficult to endure and is disheartening when dealt with alone. It is important to understand that social support can be received anytime, whether it’s from family, friends, social groups – it’s everywhere, and it comes in different forms, Reflection Journal I which are structural social support and functional social support. Social support is helpful, since it offers a better positive outlook on the situation at hand and creates a more favorable self-image for the person receiving it. The forms and sub-forms social support come in, cover an ample spectrum in which support is offered. Here’s how social support comes in numerous ways:

a. Consider a recovering alcoholic (individual A) who relapses and is attempting to seek social support through the Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) association. This association paves the way to alcoholics and recovering alcoholics to reach sobriety or maintain their sober state. Now when individual A joins this community, he’s surrounded by tons of other recovering/alcoholics who have the same goal which provides him with structural social support to overcome his addiction. The frequency of the meetings (weekly) also provides individual A with structural support in the sense that they help him keep up with his progression and constructing ways on how to avoid succumbing to temptations faced every day.

b. Consider 15-year old (individual B) ringing up his best-friend because his parents’ continuous fights are triggering his self-destructive tendencies. His best-friend asks to meet outdoors near a psychiatric clinic so he could vent freely and feel safe in case of an emergency. Individual B’s friend is providing him with functional support in which he encourages him so seek other outlets to the problem. His best-friend is offering him emotional social support through offering to listen to him. Individual B starts to rant about how awful he feels because he gets uncontrollably angry when he hears his parents fighting – especially whilst his baby sister, Diana, won’t stop crying. He says, “My parents are just so selfish and they keep throwing all their parental responsibilities on me whenever they want to take a break from each other! I just feel so helpless because I don’t know how to make Diana happy whenever I babysit her alone. I think she’s the only reason I’m able to hang on, but I’m worried I won’t be able to do so in the near future if my parents continue behaving like this. What should I do in this case?” Individual B is seeking informational social support through asking his friend for advice in the case of feeling self-destructive again. He would be receiving such support if his best-friend offers any sort of advice/recommendations like, “I think you should vocalize your concerns to your parents, or at least to one of them. You bottle up a lot and take in many things silently without complaining to them. I’ve met your parents a lot times and they seem like the type to give Reflection Journal I you the freedom if you just ask for it. If that doesn’t work out, just give me a call and we can figure out something else. Actually, why don’t you take a day off from babysitting Diana! I can do that! I’m experienced with doing so because of my little brother…”. Individual B’s friend is also offering him instrumental social support through offering to babysit his sister. He is instrumentally supporting his friend thorough physically offering to support him.

In the above examples, a glimpse of how structural and functional social support may be offered is demonstrated. There are plenty other ways that people can receive or offer such support. I personally receive all forms of social support from my family. It feels safe to know that there are people close to me that can offer these types of support whenever I need it.

Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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Biopsychosocial vs Biomedical Model to Deal With Diseases. (2024, Feb 02). Retrieved from

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