The P’s and Q’s of Good Health Care
Health is a condition of emotional, physical and mental well being in which infirmity and disease are absent. Different definitions have been applied to the subject over the years. However, common elements of health care delivery have been identified as a norm of what constitutes health.
Health is not only a state of poor health, but can also be a state where there is no health: an illness or disability that interferes with one or more of life’s basic pursuits. Illness, while it may affect a person physically, mentally, or emotionally can be debilitating in its impact on daily life. Illness can create great discomfort and may prevent normal functioning. People with illness are often misunderstood; the stigma attached to persons who suffer from an illness usually prevents them from being treated effectively by health care teams. This means that the true impact of illness on wellbeing can go unrecognised, and ill health can cause debilitating detriment to everyday life.
It is important that wellness is viewed as encompassing all of these aspects of the three P’s, for to achieve wellness the three P’s must be well balanced. The practical implications of this are that mental, physical and social wellness need to be well represented in any services aimed at improving wellness. While many healthcare professionals still think of wellness as merely a physical condition, evidence is emerging that suggests a link between the psychological and emotional well-being, as well as physical health, of those who experience long term illness. Evidence also suggests that those with positive mental health make better decisions and are happier in their day-to-day lives than those with negative mental health.
The three P’s of personal health status well-being are the physical, emotional and social aspects. Illness can have an impact on each of these aspects of well-being. A physically sick person will have lower energy levels, depression and anxiety are more prevalent in ill people, and illness can alter the chemical makeup of the brain, affecting brain chemistry and moods. In a more extreme example, someone suffering from an illness such as terminal cancer might be unable to think rationally or logically. They would be unable to make sound judgments about matters where logic and rational thinking would otherwise have significant impact.
The third P’s of health status well-being are related to changes in lifestyle choices and experiences. For a person who is physically ill, changes in their lifestyle choices, such as eating too much food that is high in fat or sugar, may have an effect on their energy levels and moods. A mentally ill person may choose to neglect their medication or may be unable to make healthy lifestyle choices such as avoiding stimulants such as caffeine. A person with poor physical health may be more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as excessive alcohol or drug use, or to smoke cigarettes. Illness can also change a person’s sex hormone levels, affecting their ability to be sexually aroused or to maintain a healthy sexual relationship.
Illness, change in lifestyle, and behavior are all interrelated. While not everyone who suffers from one health problem copes with others who suffer from a different illness, the effects of these health problems often converge, creating a poorer quality of life. When these health problems are more severe, the quality of life may be worse for those who suffer from both conditions. Those who suffer from ill health, poor health, or a combination of both may find themselves feeling depressed, angry, anxious, unable to work productively, or even suicidal. Unfortunately, many people who are depressed, angry, anxious, or suicidal do not seek treatment, putting them at greater risk for suicide than those who do seek treatment.