Health is certainly the focus of worksite wellness programs today. And you do want your program to have clarity of focus, right?
A look at the definitions of health doesn’t really help us to establish what health really is. Beyond the definitions, there are two ways to view health:
• The reductionist/mechanistic view
• The health creation or production view
The difference in these views can be seen in both the different definitions of health and how health as a concept is implemented or executed. These two different views see health as being either a personal choice, or as a social responsibility.
Health, when viewed through the reductionist/mechanistic lens, is considered to be either personal or individually determined. This view is about a link between health and the body. The reductionist/mechanistic view is a medical view of health. Health is seen as being a medical problem with medical solutions delivered by medical care.
In this view, health is medicalized. Medicalization is a process whereby non-medical problems and issues become defined and treated as medical problems, usually in terms of illnesses and disorders.
The conceptualization of health in this view is having a healthy body. Health as a goal is achieved by deliberate and intentional action. Health maintenance involves will-power, self-control, self-discipline and self-denial. Health is achieved through body maintenance in accordance with physical standards.
Worksite wellness programs today, with their focus on employee health status management, typically view health through the reductionist/mechanistic lens based on the medical model which focuses on organ related pathology within the individual. Health is viewed in medical and technical terms. This view fits right in with the individualistic and hard work core values of the American culture.
The creating or producing view of health looks at health as being more than just about illness. This view considers the role of social, environmental, economics and behavior as determinants and moderators of health. In this view, health is more than about the individual and is seen in human social and cultural terms.