Dimensions & Determinants of Health

Dimensions & Determinants of Health


According to WHO, health is defined as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Components/Dimensions of Health 

According to WHO, the components of health include the following:

  1. Physical Health: The state of physical health implies the notion of perfect functioning of the body, including anatomical, physiological, and biochemical functioning. Every cell and organ must function optimally and in perfect harmony with the rest of the body.

  2. Social Well-being: This refers to the level of health that enables a person to live in harmony and integration with their surroundings. It includes the quantity and quality of an individual’s interpersonal ties and their involvement with the community.

  3. Mental Well-being: A positive mental health state indicates that the individual is well adapted to both external and internal stressors, has harmonious relations within the family and community spheres, and is able to lead a productive life.

  4. Spiritual Dimension: This refers to the part of an individual that seeks meaning and purpose in life. It recognizes our search for meaning and purpose in human existence.

  5. Emotional Dimension: The emotional dimension involves awareness and acceptance of one’s feelings. Emotional wellness includes the degree to which one feels positive and enthusiastic about oneself and life.

  6. Occupational Dimension: The occupational dimension recognizes personal satisfaction and enrichment in one’s life through work. Work, when fully adapted to human goals, capacities, and limitations, often plays a role in promoting both physical and mental health.

Determinants of Health

Determinants of Health

There are many influences that affect health and well-being, known as determinants of health. These determinants include:

  1. Genetic Configuration: The health of a population or an individual is greatly dependent on genetic constitution. Genetic traits related to certain enzyme deficiencies and hereditary diseases can lead to changes in individuals’ health status.

  2. Lifestyle of Individuals: Sedentary lifestyles, excessive competition, lack of regular exercise, and the excessive consumption of alcohol and other substances like smoking have compromised individuals’ health status, leading to non-communicable diseases.

  3. Level of Development: Economic and social development helps improve the health status of populations.

  4. Environment: The physical, social, and biological environment is a crucial determinant of health. Factors such as poor environmental sanitation, inadequate safe water, and excessive air and water pollution can impact health.

  5. Health Infrastructure: Accessibility and acceptability of health facilities have a direct impact on health status. Availability and utilization of primary health facilities improve the health of individuals and communities.

Health indicators

Health indicators, also referred to as health variables or health indices, are measurable characteristics of a population that provide insights into its health status. These indicators serve several essential roles in the realm of healthcare management, including description, prediction, explanation, system oversight, evaluation, advocacy, accountability, research, and the assessment of gender disparities.

Types of Health Indicators

Health indicators are typically classified into two main categories: vital indicators and behavioral indicators.

Vital Indicators: These encompass a wide range of measures that provide critical information about the health of a population. Some key types of vital health indicators include:

  1. Mortality Indicators: These indicators focus on data related to deaths within a population. They include statistics such as the crude death rate (the total number of deaths per 1,000 people in a given year) and specific death rates for various causes (e.g., cardiovascular disease, cancer).

  2. Morbidity Indicators: Morbidity indicators provide insights into the prevalence and incidence of diseases and illnesses within a population. Examples include the prevalence of diabetes or the incidence of new cases of tuberculosis.

  3. Disability Indicators: These indicators assess the prevalence of disabilities, impairments, and limitations in functioning within the population.

  4. Service Indicators: Service indicators gauge the accessibility, availability, and quality of healthcare services. This category includes measures like the number of healthcare facilities per capita or the availability of essential medications.

  5. Comprehensive Indicators: Comprehensive indicators offer a more holistic view of health by combining multiple aspects of well-being. They may include the Human Development Index (HDI), which factors in life expectancy, education, and income.

  6. Growth Rates: These indicators track changes in population size over time, which can impact healthcare resource planning and allocation.

  7. Fertility Rates: Fertility indicators, such as the total fertility rate (TFR), provide information about the average number of children born to women of childbearing age in a population.

  8. Couple Protection Rates: These rates evaluate the use and effectiveness of family planning methods among couples.

  9. Birth Rates: Birth rates indicate the number of live births per 1,000 people in a specific population during a given year.

Behavioral Health Indicators: In contrast to vital indicators, behavioral health indicators focus on the actions, behaviors, and attitudes of individuals and communities regarding healthcare. Some examples of behavioral health indicators include:

  • Utilization of Services: These indicators measure the extent to which healthcare services are accessed by the population, including factors like hospital admissions, doctor visits, and preventive screenings.

  • Compliance Rates: Compliance indicators assess the adherence of individuals to recommended treatments, medications, and health guidelines.

  • Population Attitudes: Behavioral indicators also encompass surveys and data related to public perceptions and attitudes regarding health and healthcare facilities.

Common Health Problems in the Community

Health problems vary across different groups. Common health problems include:

Health Problems in Children:

  • Diarrhea
  • Malnutrition, including protein-energy malnutrition like kwashiorkor
  • Convulsions
  • Malaria
  • Failure to thrive

Health Problems in Women:

  • Malaria
  • Pregnancy-related problems like miscarriages, abortions, and anemia from excess bleeding
  • Stress-induced hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Typhoid
  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Cholera

Health Problems in Men:

  • Malaria
  • Typhoid
  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Alcohol and drug addiction
  • Infections, including HIV/AIDS
  • Problems related to smoking, such as lung cancer

Implications of Health Problems on the Family

Health problems can have several implications for families, including:

  • Poverty
  • Family instability
  • Family separation or divorce
  • High mortality rates
  • Loss of jobs
  • Childhood diseases, including measles, TB, diphtheria, polio, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), yellow fever, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenza type B, and diarrhea.
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