Health As a Social Issue

Health is a condition of mental, physical and social well being where infirmity and disease are absent. A number of definitions have been utilized over the years for distinct purposes. One definition of health, which is used today is “a state of complete health that is achieved when the complete functions of the body and mind are properly functioning”. This definition excludes those conditions which are regarded as morbid. Conditions considered to be morbid include death, infectious diseases, serious accidents, disabilities caused by illness or injury, prolonged illness or stunted growth.


The most common problems associated with poor health and lack of well-being are cardiovascular and respiratory disorders; as well as insomnia, stress, depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, loss of energy and poor nutritional status. There are also many psychological disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder, personality disorders, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Illness and disability contribute significantly to the increased morbidity rate. The main articles of concern in the health fields are smoking, alcohol consumption and sedentary lifestyle. Other major issues include improper diet, nutritional deficiency, lack of exercise, exposure to toxins and air pollution.

In the field of health sciences, there are four basic areas of inquiry into how determinants affect health: sociological determinants, personal/interpersonal determinants, biological determinants and environmental determinants. Social determinants refer to such factors as race, gender, education, occupational class, socioeconomic status and culture/place. Personal/interpersonal determinants include genes, hormones, lifestyle and environmental factors. Biological and environmental determinants refer to the quality of the environment, including general health, immune status and metabolism.

An increasing number of health problems are being faced by the United States population. For example, the high level of obesity and overweight, which is an increasing issue in the United States, has been linked with higher incidences of type 2 diabetes, a leading cause of cardiovascular disease. Occupational health problems include a variety of conditions such as breast cancer, back pain, osteoporosis, kidney problems, workplace accidents, lung diseases, sleep disorders and other pulmonary conditions.

Public health is a branch of the health sciences that seeks to protect the health of the public at large. It is an area of study that has been around for a long time and has had specific objective since the earliest days of the country’s existence. A great deal of public health research deals with preventing disease and improving the quality of life through public programs. This research has had a wide range of achievements and benefits. These benefits include reducing poverty, providing access to quality health care and preventing the spread of infectious diseases.

One important element of public health care is the prevention and treatment of physical and mental illnesses. There are many programs that aim to achieve this end. Amongst the most famous are the Federal programs like Medicaid and the Medicare system. The goal of these programs is to prevent as well as treat diseases that primarily affect the elderly; to increase the overall health of children; reduce the health-threatening situations of women; and improve the health of the community as a whole. All these aims are geared towards protecting the public’s health and well-being.