Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition of “complete physical, emotional and social well being” and not just the absence of sickness and disease. Numerous definitions have been utilized over time for various purposes. These can be broadly categorized into three areas: physiological health, mental health, and social or community health. In this article, we will concentrate on the last area, which is termed as community health.
The three determinants of health status are psychological, biological, and environmental. We cannot talk of the first two determinants separately as they are interdependent and interconnected in several ways. As mentioned above, psychological determinants such as genes, hormones, education, and family history, interact with each other and influence the development of an individual’s physical and mental health. Likewise, other social determinants such as poverty, discrimination, and health service availability, also interact in a synergistic manner to affect health.
The study of the human body and mind has opened up new dimensions in understanding the relation between these three determinants of health. Many studies have found strong relationships between environment, genes, and behavior. It has been observed that people living in unhealthy environments are more prone to develop chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Similarly, people who are subjected to hazardous jobs and substance abuse are more prone to develop numerous illnesses, some of which are life threatening. It is interesting to note here that the same determinants responsible for causing these diseases are also considered as the causes of some commonly occurring and chronic diseases.
Public health is a growing concern for the people in different parts of the world. Although it was considered as a part of the governmental sector till very recently, it is now becoming an important part of the business sector, as more people are now aware of the value of this sector. Health is now not only limited to physical well being, but involves one’s mental and spiritual health too. Stress and anxiety, depression and other mental disorders have been positively correlated with the rise of many health problems. These mental disorders are also considered as major causal factors of morbidity and mortality across all age groups.
A person’s physical health is influenced by the genes he/she receives during birth. These determinants may either be favorable or unfavorable. However, there are other environmental and social determinants as well that help to determine a person’s odds of getting various kinds of diseases and illnesses. For example, sex, lifestyle, and occupational exposures are some of the prime determinants that are positively correlated with health. These determinants may either be favorable or unfavorable.
One may also consider the United States as a country with high levels of unhealthy lifestyle. In the United States, smoking rates have skyrocketed, causing various types of health problems. To prevent these serious health problems, the US population needs to understand the relationship between occupational health and population health.