The Definition of Health


Many different concepts have been used to define health. These vary greatly in scope, ranging from a medical model that focuses solely on the absence of disease to one that takes into account social and psychological factors as well. There are also some who believe that the definition should include a more holistic approach and that health is not simply a condition that can be measured by medical tests or other physical means.

The most widely recognized definition of health is that of the World Health Organization, which states that “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. This definition is often used to inform policy, guide the design and delivery of health care, and promote healthy lifestyles.

However, defining health has been a challenge. Unlike disease, which is typically recognizable and tangible, health can be difficult to identify. In addition, the nature of health is a subjective phenomenon, and as such it can be perceived differently by different individuals. This makes it challenging to develop policies that can be applied consistently.

Some individuals have defined health as the ability to live life according to their own values and goals. This definition of health is often referred to as the lay perspective on health and appears to be characterized by three qualities: wholeness, pragmatism, and individualism. Wholeness relates to the perception that health is an aspect of life interwoven with all other aspects and that it is important for people to be able to cope with their daily lives. This includes family functioning and a person’s work situation. Pragmatism relates to the fact that individuals perceive health as a relative phenomenon. It is important that an individual be able to live according to their own values and to find satisfaction in their life as a whole. This is an important part of experiencing health.

Individualism relates to the fact that people tend to evaluate their own health based on what is within their control. This can include such things as eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. It can also be the capacity to make decisions based on their own values and beliefs, regardless of whether these are in agreement with the medical profession.

Throughout history, there has been a constant debate about the definition of health. For example, the physician Canguilhem argued that health was a condition of normality. His definition of health included the animate and inanimate environment, as well as the innate and acquired characteristics of humans. His definition also emphasized the social dimension of human beings and emphasized the importance of preventing diseases by promoting healthful behaviours.

The present digital society allows different perspectives on health to co-exist and evolve simultaneously, resulting in different understandings of health. This variety of approaches to health is also visible online and should be taken into consideration by those designing interventions aimed at improving the quality of life and wellbeing of the population.