Understanding Disease Risk Factors: An Analytical Exploration


Stanhope and Lancaster (2010) introduced the concept of the web of causation, acknowledging the intricate interplay of numerous factors influencing the risk of disease (p. 163). These factors fall into three broad categories: agents, host, and environment. Agents encompass infectious, chemical, and physical agents, while host factors include genetic susceptibility, physical characteristics, and lifestyle habits. The environment category encompasses climate, human population distribution, socioeconomic factors, and working conditions. In contrast, the wheel of causation, as proposed by Harkness and DeMarco (2012), shifts the focus away from agents as the sole cause, emphasizing the interconnectedness of physical, biological, and social environments (p.


The Web of Causation: An In-Depth Analysis

The web of causation provides a comprehensive perspective on disease causation, recognizing the multifaceted interactions among various factors. Agents, whether infectious, chemical, or physical, play a pivotal role in influencing disease risk. Infectious agents, such as bacteria and viruses, can lead to widespread health concerns. Chemical agents, including heavy metals and pesticides, pose risks through environmental exposure, while physical agents like heat, cold, or radiation can also contribute to health issues.

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Host factors are equally significant in shaping disease outcomes. Genetic susceptibility, physical characteristics such as age and sex, and lifestyle habits like smoking or physical activity level all contribute to an individual's vulnerability to diseases. The intricate interplay of these host factors, when combined with environmental influences, creates a complex matrix of potential risk scenarios. This model allows for a nuanced understanding of the various factors at play in disease development.

The Wheel of Causation: Applying the Model to Health Challenges

When considering the priority diagnosis of deficient community health related to obesity, drug, and alcohol use in Anoka County, the wheel of causation proves to be a valuable analytical tool.

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This model shifts the focus toward the interplay of physical, biological, and social environments in influencing the health of the county's residents.

Rising poverty levels in Anoka County serve as a potential stressor, contributing to family conflicts and, consequently, an increased risk of alcohol or drug abuse. The World Health Organization's study underscores the impact of education on obesity, indicating a negative association between lower educational levels and higher obesity rates. Over time, this educational disparity has widened, exacerbating the obesity gap between well-educated and poorly educated individuals.

Lower educational levels also correlate with decreased knowledge about nutrition, limiting families' ability to prepare healthy meals. This knowledge gap increases the likelihood of relying on fast food, takeout, or prepackaged/convenience foods, contributing to the prevalence of obesity. The wheel of causation, by emphasizing the interconnectedness of physical, biological, and social environments, provides valuable insights into the root causes of Anoka County's health challenges.

Conclusion: A Holistic Approach to Disease Prevention

In conclusion, the web of causation and the wheel of causation offer complementary perspectives on understanding disease risk factors. By acknowledging the complexity of interactions among agents, host factors, and the environment, these models provide a foundation for a holistic approach to disease prevention. Analyzing the priority diagnosis in Anoka County through the lens of the wheel of causation underscores the importance of addressing not only individual behaviors but also the broader social and environmental determinants of health. Moving forward, public health interventions should consider these multifaceted influences to develop effective strategies that promote community well-being.

Updated: Dec 01, 2023
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Understanding Disease Risk Factors: An Analytical Exploration. (2016, Apr 24). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/the-wheel-of-causation-essay

Understanding Disease Risk Factors: An Analytical Exploration essay
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