Approaches to Addressing Health Issues
Do health theories truly define the extent of a public health or social issue?
The social and behavioral sciences have provided myriad models and theories that health professionals often use when developing health interventions. While some of these models focus on changing an individual’s health behavior, others encompass social and environmental influences. As described in Week 2, the premise of ecosocial theory posits that the behavior of individuals is dependent upon the dynamic interaction of intrapersonal, interpersonal, organizational, community, and policy influences.
Consider the inequitable distribution of rates of obesity when comparing affluent versus lower socioeconomic neighborhoods. Can food deserts (where easy access to cheap fast-food far outweighs the prevalence of healthy and nutritious food) lead to higher rates of obesity in lower socioeconomic neighborhoods? Do social class, education, and culture represent additional contributing factors in these communities? What perspectives or lens can best inform interventions to address obesity in low-income communities?
For this Discussion, review this week’s Learning Resources. Then, select a health issue and population of interest. Consider which level in the SEM might most impact changes in health outcomes in your selected population. Reflect on a social or behavioral theory/model associated with a level in the SEM to focus the intervention for your target population.
Post by Day 3 a brief description of the health issue in the population you selected. State your position as to which level in the SEM would most impact changes in health outcomes for this population and explain why. Then, identify a social or behavioral theory/model that maps to the SEM level. Briefly explain how this social or behavioral theory/model could be applied in an intervention aimed at your target population. Be specific and provide examples.
Introduction An examination of the changing health patterns in this century justifies both celebration and dismay. (Levins, 1998) The world of public health is replete with past triumphs and challenges in addressing health issues. Consider for example increased life expectancy at birth, advances in promoting safe drinking water, the eradication of smallpox, or even technological advances that make diagnosis and treatment for myriad health issues more expedient. While these triumphs are certainly celebrated and contribute to the quality of life for everyone, we must keep in mind that “solutions designed to solve isolated problems can exacerbate or give rise to new ones” (Levins, 1998). Effective interventions are based on understanding the context in which a health issue occurs and selecting appropriate theories and strategies for addressing the problem within that context. In this week, you will explore how different theories and models are better suited for interventions aimed at specific targets—e.g., the individual or community. This week, you examine social and behavioral theories and consider how these theories and models relate to levels in the social ecology framework. You also consider the impact of cultural perspectives on health interventions. Objectives Students will: Identify concepts of social and behavioral theories and models Analyze social and behavioral theories and models in relation to levels in the social ecology framework Evaluate levels of the Socio-Ecological Model on the impact of health outcomes Identify considerations in choosing an appropriate theory or model to address a health issue