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IntroductionDefinitionsObjectivesMain presentationSummaryConclusionRecommendationReferences
The study of health and illness is not only a study of biological processes within the patient’s body but also the actions that the patient takes to maintain or restore their health. Illness behavior is the behavior associated to physical or mental disorder whether adaptive or not it includes consulting doctors, taking medicines, seeking help from relatives and friends and giving up inappropriate activities. These behaviors are adaptive in early stages of illness. Illness behavior results from the person’s conviction that he is ill rather than from the objective presence of disease and it may develop when no disease is present. Social scientists have pointed out that these response are
shaped by the attitudes and understanding of illness possessed by the social groups of which the person is a part and cannot be predicted solely from the knowledge of the diseases from which they are suffering. From the patients perspective then, social factors influence the likelihood that they will consult and subsequently comply with treatment. But from the doctors perspective too, social factors are seen to influence what is regarded as a disease and what is regarded as normal.
Disease- An illness affecting humans, animals or plants often caused by an infection.Illness- A state of being physically or mentally ill.Health- State of complete physical, mental and socialwell beingand not merely a state of absence of disease or infirmity.Homeopath- A person who treats illness using a small amount of substance that causes disease condition.Chiropractor-a person who treats some diseases and physical problems by pressing and moving the bones in a person’s spine or jointsOsteopaths-a person who treats some diseases and physical problems by pressing and moving the bones and muscles.
At the end of this presentation everyone should be able toUnderstand the meaning of illness behaviorUnderstand the concept of the sick roleUnderstand why some people are reluctant to go to a doctorUnderstand the reasons why people go to a doctor
The concept of the sick role and illness behavior usually overlaps. It is concerned withSocial aspects of falling ill and the privileges andobligations that accompany it. It is a concept created by American sociologist Talcott Parsons in 1951. It is made up with two privileges and two duties:Exemption from certain social responsibilities
GENERAL DISCUSSIONThe concept of the sick role
The right to expect help and care from othersThe obligation to seek and cooperate with treatmentThe expectation of a desire to recover.While the person is ill, the sick role is adaptive.If people continue in the sick role after the illness is over, recovery is delayed.
The concept of the sick role cont..
If people are to consult their doctors, they must recognize that their symptoms are abnormal, that they must decide that consultationisappropriate and they must not be dissuaded by the cost of consultation.1.Recognizing symptoms as abnormalSymptoms such as tiredness, headache, and low back pain may be so common that they are ignored by so many people. Also people are afraid of the prognosis. in other words they are afraid that their condition might be something worse than they imagine. In part this is due to lack of medical knowledge and may also due to the prevailing culture which accepts certain symptoms as normal because of their ubiquity. This factors will contribute to the under reporting of illness.
Why people do not go to a doctor?
2. Culture and beliefsEven if people recognize their symptoms to be abnormal there are variety of actions they may take according to their understanding of the causes and cure of illness. Some religious sects for instance, may forbid the use of medical procedures and favor of spiritual cures. The use of prayers makes sense if the cause of the symptoms is perceived as supernatural, as a punishment for sinful behavior or for failing to observe proper rites. It has been observed that cancer patients see their disease as punishment and
Why people do not go to a doctor cont..
prefer to indulge feelings of guilt by taking no action over their symptoms. Many alternative practitioners such as homeopaths, chiropractors, faith healers, witch doctors and osteopaths may also be seen as more appropriate for certain medical conditions particularly those chronic ones. Finally the most common method of treating symptoms appears to be self medication without professional supervision and involves common drugs which are freely available.
Why people do not go to a doctor cont..
3. The costs of consultationThese are categorized into three:FinancialPsychologicalSocialThis is more evident in private health care systems but even within a free national health service there may be hidden penalties. Due to this the number of people going to hospitals for consultation reduces especially among the low paid which are the majority, then there are psychological costs. Some people avoid consulting because they are afraid of discovering some serious pathology or are afraid of hospital treatment.Finally there are social costs of entering the sick role and the obligations which this entails. As a patient, one is expected to submit to medical procedures which are sometimes unpleasant, painful or embarrassing.
Why people do not go to a doctor cont..
4.AgeSome ill people associate some type of illness to old age and may not want to attend hospital since they say that they are sick because of old age.5.SexMany men deny the fact that they are sick but women accept and ready to receivemedical treatment.
There are benefits of consultationAmong the psychological benefits is the reduction of anxiety about the meaning of the symptoms about their implication since symptoms are often strange and worrying to people and reassurance is more effective when it comes from a person perceived as high in status or expertise.Some patients may be primarily in need of a confiding a relationship which is not otherwise available. There is also evidence that those low in social support, without friends or confidants consult more.
Why people do go to a doctor?
Social triggersIn many cases people seem to adapt to their symptoms rather than seek aid at their physically sickest point, they wait until prompted by some other event.They wait until the symptoms interfere with their lives such as stopping them from working etc. They may wait until someone else tells them to see a doctor.These triggers are independent of but operate in conjunction with the presence of symptoms to determine when consultation occurs.
Why people go to a doctor cont..
Another benefit is that doctors have access toa laboratory which performs many tests therefore any conclusion is back withscientific results. Patients who reveal significant pathology receive treatment
Why people go to a doctor cont..
In summary observable and potentially measurable actions and conduct express and communicate the individuals own perception of disturbed health.A certain degree of illness behavior is to be expected and should be regarded as normal; however some patients are being labeled as having developed abnormal illness behavior
Health and illness need to be regarded whether from the patients or from the doctors perspective as both social and biological phenomena
This topic is recommended to doctors and other medical personnel to understand illness behavior so as to handle their patients well.
Medical dictionary. The free dictionaryA.C.P.Sims&W.I.Hume. (1984). Lecture notes on behavioral sciences, Victoria3053, Australia. Blackwell Scientific Gelder et al(2006). Shorter oxford textbook of psychiatry,US Oxford university press Inc.





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