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"Why do people respond differently to illness and why is health so hard to define?"
Why do people respond differently to illness and why is health so hard to define?
Carlos Hernandez
The concepts of health, disease and illness are all very subjective, and thus it is very hard to actually define them. As prospective doctors it is our task to work towards restoring health in patients, so it is essential to understand the idea of health. The problem arises because the concepts of health and illness are very different for each individual; for instance one person might feel a sprained ankle is a major problem because he is a professional rugby player, whilst for someone else it could just be an annoyance. Studies in this area reveal that perceptions of health vary between cultures and communities, due to differences in age, gender, socioeconomic background and ethnicity.

An essential part of discovering why people respond to illness in such different ways was through my placements at a GP's surgery in Barnes and the Hammersmith Hospital. This gave me an excellent chance to gain insight into why people visit their GP. I had a chance to have a quick discussion with patients before they went in for their appointment about why they were there. It was immensely satisfying to be able to combine other aspects of the course with PCC. For example, speaking with the patients allowed me to put into practice my speaking and listening skills that I had learnt in communication skills.

I initially felt quite apprehensive about the reception I would get when I introduced myself as a 1st year medical student and whether people would open up to me. Therefore it was a nice surprise when I found some patients were willing to speak openly about very sensitive topics; one person happily spoke about genito-urinary problems they had been experiencing. As I asked more questions I gained in confidence and the conversations became more natural, creating a more mutual conversation. I...

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"Why do people respond differently to illness and why is health so hard to define?." Jun 24, 2018
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