One definition of health is that “the quality of a person’s physical well-being.” According to the World Health Organization, “health is the interdependence of the physical functions of the body and the mind.” A wide variety of other definitions have also been used over the years for various purposes. One school of thought defines health as the absence of sickness, the absence of impairment, health in the sense of having well-organized and functioning body and mind. In this sense, health is maintained through appropriate diet and a healthy lifestyle.
Current debates and discussions surrounding the definition of health have produced different definitions. One emerging view is that there are three separate aspects to health: physical health, mental health and the quality of life aspect. These three aspects are thought to be in parallel but yet they interact in complex ways. The challenge today for people of color and other underserved groups is to find providers who can address their specific health needs.
The first step is to define what the definition of health means for you. It may refer to a state of good health; to a state of being healthy; or to the absence of any disease or impairment. For example, the definition of an absence of a disease could be considered to be healthy absence or healthiness. Some other examples include the absence of any pain or discomfort, the absence of any infection, absence of seizures, absence of mental illness, the absence of any major medical problems or disability or even any death. The first step in finding health care providers who are culturally competent is to understand your specific health issues so that you can articulate your needs to them in your language.
Second, your health needs are grounded on your history and your environment as well as on your genes and your body chemistry. Your experiences in the family as well as in your childhood may have led to an illness which has manifested itself in symptoms or behaviors now. Environmental factors include things that have always been present in your life like stress, poor nutrition, exposure to allergens, pollution, noise, violence, etc. They may be present in your life now because of a change in your environment or even because of your genes. Third, your health can be affected by genetic factors, but that doesn’t mean that other environmental factors are not important and have their own significance as well. The quality of your relationships, your sleep patterns and your cognitive health could also affect the quality of your health.
The fourth factor is your definition of good health. Healthy living is not just avoiding disease or injury but also preventing chronic illnesses that increase the likelihood of mortality. A definition of good health, which is then to be applied to persons of different ethnic groups could be based on the HDI (Hazard Ratio) which is a numerator for the equation of mortality and morbidity. According to this equation, the higher the HDI, the lower the percentage of deaths due to illness and the higher the percentage of deaths due to disease, death, or suicide.
The fifth definition is the definition of absence. We know that most people live with some form of disability, illness, or disease in their life. Those who don’t live without any disability, illness, or disease are said to have absence or being healthy. Healthy absence is the absence of illness, disability, or disease and being healthy is the absence or not having an illness, disability, or disease.