Epidemiological Studies In Understanding


Health is referred as the absence of any illness or disease in the body so that the individual is able to cope with all the demands of their life. In this essay, the definition of health by WHO is to be informed for analysing its usefulness along with benefit of epidemiological studies are to be evaluated for understanding cause of disease.

Definition of Health

The World Health Organisation (WHO) informs that health is a state of social, mental and physical well-being of an individual and not merely the absence of any disease in the body (www.who.int, 2018). This definition means that health is the dynamic condition of the body as a result of adaptation and adjustment to the responses of changes and stresses in the environment for keeping inner stability known as homeostasis.


Evaluate usefulness of WHO definition of Health

The health definition by WHO was initially useful to overcome the negative definition of health as being just an absence of the disease by including mental, social and physical domain (www.who.int, 2018). This is because the individuals who are not suffering from illness may not be termed healthy as the person may be physically weak or mentally disturbed or socially isolated. Thus, in such situation, the individual is unable to live their life normally as their body does not permit them to efficiently execute their daily activities. The present health scenario of the individuals in the 20th century informs that chronic illness with increase in age has become the norm. Thus, in this context, the WHO definition of health has become counterproductive as according to it mentions individuals suffering from chronic disease as well as a disability to be definitively diseased or ill in nature. This leads to minimising the human capacity of being able to autonomously cope with their life's changing emotional, physical and social challenges along with their functional ability and feeling of being well with disability or chronic disease (Huber et al. 2011).

The criticism has also been raised regarding the usefulness of the health definition by WHO is that the definition has led to unintentional medicalisation of the society. This is because ensuring complete well-being along with absence of disease in the present era would lead many of the individuals to be termed unhealthy most of the time (Bickenbach, 2015). This is evident from the instance where the person suffering from chronic disease like high blood pressure which was not previously regarded as disease under the definition may be given medication. It is to help the individual cope with the illness to get normal blood pressure to ensure they are in good health without taking into concern that it may be normal for the person to have slightly elevated blood pressure. Thus, the persistent emphasis by WHO health definition on maintaining complete physical well-being may lead many or group of individuals to be eligible for screening for expensive intervention from which only a few can be benefited. This, in turn, leads individuals to have high dependency towards medicines (Karimi and Brazier, 2016). It means that group of individuals having high blood pressure under medication may be seen that few people after certain dosage of medication were able to normalise their blood pressure but many other people in the group had to be in continuous medication for the rest of their lives to control blood pressure levels.

Evaluate advantages of epidemiological studies executed to develop information for cause of diseases

The epidemiology refers to the analysis and study of health determinates along with distribution of health and diseases being mentioned in populations. Thus, the epidemiological studies involve the scientific method of executing investigation for solving problem regarding diseases by the disease detectives such as laboratory scientists, epidemiologists, physicians and others along with public health professionals to identify the root cause of the health issues or outbreak in the community (Bhopal, 2016). This aspect of the epidemiological studies regarding understanding of the cause regarding illness helps to effectively control the outbreak. It is evident as by knowing the root cause of the disease the epidemiologist is able to inform which risk factors are responsible and not responsible for causing the certain nature of illness. This helps the healthcare practitioners to focus on the aspect in developing medications or strategies to control the illness so that it can be barred from spreading to increased number of individuals (Ogino et al. 2016). For example, in February 2009, two fatal cases related to meningitis are seen to occur in an Army training centre known as Fort Leonard. In this situation, epidemiological studies are involved to identify root cause of the outbreak and develop interventions to prevent the further spread of the illness. The studies by the epidemiologist informed that risk factors like taking antibiotics, living with more than four trainees in the baby, smoking and living on particular floor or barracks were seen not to be responsible for causing the disease. They reported that vaccination and medication regarding meningitis can be able to stop the staffs and trainees from any further being affected by the fatal disease. This information mentioned by the epidemiologists was able to create timely response at the centre to stop any fatal consequences regarding disease in future (Dawood et al. 2011).

The epidemiological studies for understanding cause of illness helps to identify the nature of risk factors such as environment or choices made in lifestyle or biological or genetic factors are responsible in causing the illness that has intervened the life of the healthy people (Ogino et al. 2016). For instance, the epidemiological study regarding obesity informed that the intake of fatty foods by the population and lack of maintaining a healthy diet as lifestyle are not the only cause that leads to the disease. However, the study helped to identify that even certain side-effects of the medications like anti-depressants, diabetic medications and others along with genetic framework of the body are also responsible for causing obesity. This evident as through the epidemiological and genetic studies it has been identified that an association of the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) present in the fat mass and the FTO gene is genetically responsible in causing obesity (Abdelmajed et al. 2017). These findings helped the patients to identify the actual cause for them to gain weight and become obese and they accordingly develop strategies and medication for controlling the disease. This in turn also helped the healthcare practitioners to provide medication and intervention according to the nature of the risk factors regarding the individual that is causing them to be obese ensuring successful and better health outcome for the people. Thus, epidemiological studies for understanding the cause of the illness help to develop proper healthcare for specific individuals for their better health outcome.

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The discussion informs that health is referred as complete social, physical and mental well-being of a person and not just the lack of disease in the body as mentioned by WHO. However, in the present era of chronic disease, the definition has resulted in making medicalisation of the society and has taken scope from the individuals to autonomously resolve the disease with their ability. The epidemiological studies involved in understanding the cause of the disease has resulted in timely identify the nature of risk factors responsible and not responsible for the illness.


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