What Is Health?

Health is a complex concept that has many dimensions. Some definitions focus on the physical aspect of health, while others also include emotional and social aspects. The different definitions have important implications for the ways in which health is understood and promoted.

One feature that is common to most of the definitions is that health is defined as the absence of disease or infirmity. However, this is a very limited understanding of health that excludes many important dimensions of health. It can lead to policies that are ineffective or even harmful. For example, if an individual is diagnosed as having no disease or infirmity, they are labelled healthy and may not have any further needs assessed. However, new discoveries about the role of genes and environment suggest that individuals will never be able to achieve the goal of being completely free from disease or infirmity, no matter what measures are taken.

Defining health in terms of the ability to function and participate is more inclusive. This enables experiential elements such as pain or low mood to be included in the definition, although some definitions limit this to the extent that they impact on the capacity to participate. The ability to function and participate is a valuable concept, but it can be difficult to measure and it is easy to miss opportunities to address social injustices in the distribution of health and wellbeing.

Many of the definitions also include the idea that health is about an individual’s capacity to cope with their circumstances. This is important because it means that there can be a direct link between the health of an individual and their abilities. It also requires that health promotion efforts don’t simply aim to remove diseases or diminish risk factors. They need to also help people place greater value on their health and take action to enhance it.

A final feature common to most of the definitions is that they recognise that differences in health between social groups are not random. This makes it clear that inequalities in health are caused by systematic forces, not just chance. It also makes it much harder to defend claims that some observed differences are inevitable or unavoidable.

The tone of a health, wellness or medical article is also important. It should be pleasant but not too casual, as this can come across as unprofessional or untrustworthy. A health article should also avoid jargon, and explain complicated topics in an easy-to-understand way.

Finally, the content of a health article should be balanced and evidence-based. For example, an article about the effect of diet on heart disease should provide a wide range of evidence, rather than just a few studies which support a particular diet. This is important because it can help readers decide whether to follow the advice in the article or not. It can also help them understand why some interventions are more effective than others. Using statistics to convey the results of an experiment or study can also be helpful in this context.