Lay concepts of health

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Lay concepts of health

The general public’s beliefs about health (the lay concept of health) has been examined by researchers. They have found some differences linked to gender, age and social class.

These five lay concepts of health have been recognised [Blaxter 1990]: 1.‘Health as not ill’ the absence of symptoms. This view was held across all groups. 2.‘Health as physical fitness’, this view was used the most by young males. 3.‘Health as social relationships’, this view was used most by women. 4.‘Health as function’, (health meaning the ability to carry out tasks and activities) was mostly used by older people. 5.‘Health as psychosocial well being’, mostly used by higher socioeconomic groups.

There can be differences between the lay concepts of the general public, and the professional concepts held by health workers. Health workers have spotted problems with this: 1. A possible lack of communication (or poor communication) between health worker and client. 2. The clients’ failure to comply with the prescribed treatments.

However, there is some crossover between the concepts because: Although health workers acquire their professional views during training, they already have the lay views from their earlier background. And, the general public is also aware of the professional view and can use either view to talk about health, depending on the circumstances (formal or informal).

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