Biopsychosocial Model of Health: Meaning & significance

Primary care providers, sometimes known as family physicians, may benefit from adopting a biopsychosocial perspective. However, it is often dismissed as either impracticable or too complex. This research aims to examine how the biopsychosocial design has been used in clinical settings and its impact on patient outcomes

Explaining the Biopsychosocial Model of Health

Primary care physicians are the primary point of contact for patients with a wide range of medical needs, including initial diagnosis and ongoing treatment. Doctors and nurses work together in primary care to provide comprehensive, easily accessible medical treatment. Many individuals turn to them first when they have a health concern, and they are responsible for meeting the vast majority of their demands. Patients who seek treatment from their family doctors or general practitioners often report vague symptoms. Engel argued that the biological approach was reductionist and unscientific, which bases its understanding of a patient's symptoms only on physical notions like the pathophysiology of illnesses and tissue or organ malfunction

The BPS Framework Stresses Interdependence

The 'biopsychosocial' (BPS) paradigm highlights the interplay between a person's biological, psychological, and social environments. When applied to health, this framework highlights the significance of whole well-being, and the interconnectedness of these three elements is also highlighted. The biopsychosocial design of health and disease looks at how biological, psychological, and social factors play a part in an individual's health or illness. The BPS framework emphasizes how all of these elements are interdependent.

Meaningful to Life (Bio)

Connected to illness and physical well-being in many people's minds. To provide two examples, hernias and lymphedema are less life-threatening conditions that need medical attention over the long term. Aortic dissection is an example of an acute and serious health condition that needs emergency medical care and significantly disrupts everyday living.

Mind Related in Psycho

Facets of one's mental and emotional health that have a bearing on one's actions. The panic and stress caused by the epidemic have exacerbated the symptoms of mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. These shifting circumstances have also affected people who had never previously encountered mental health issues.

One's Relationships with Others (Social)

These include friendships and group outings in the community. The capacity to interact and maintain good connections with individuals outside of one's home is negatively impacted by isolation, whether purposeful or unintentional (as in the case of an activity-limiting disease). Isolation and unbalanced living may result from a lack of social interaction.

The Hermeneutics Circle

The research on George Engel's original biopsychosocial design was analyzed using the hermeneutics circle. The iterative hermeneutic literature review method begins with a search and acquisition of publications, followed by an analysis and interpretation of those articles. Over time, a corpus of literature has grown, expanding our knowledge of the biopsychosocial framework.

The Biopsychosocial Design Pathological

Biomedical thought, in which illness can be understood in isolation from the patient by aberrant genomic, pathological, and clinical indicators visible by doctors, continues to dominate medical practice therapeutic settings, the sociocultural aspects of the biopsychosocial design are often overlooked or treated as secondary.

Chronic Disease and the Biopsychosocial Design

Chronic diseases are cited when an integrated or holistic design might be used in studies addressing biopsychosocial application. Patients with chronic diseases have unique challenges that need biopsychosocial care. However, medical care performance indicators are only created due to bio-medically focused norms and standards.

Functional Disorders and the Biopsychosocial Perspective

Functional illnesses, including IBS, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, are often explained using the biopsychosocial paradigm. There are no known anatomical abnormalities in those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, a chronic condition characterized by recurring stomach discomfort and disturbed bowel habits Diarrhea, constipation, stool haste or regularity, bloating, and gas). The condition's origin is likely complicated and poorly understood, yet it is often seen in general care.

Stress and Its Effects on Your Body and Mind

As the BPS theory says, anxiety and poor psychological health may exacerbate physical symptoms. During extreme stress, many individuals find it difficult to keep their mental health in check. Anxiety and despair have been shown to raise a person's vulnerability to sickness. As a result, mental health injuries may have made some individuals more susceptible to developing new physical health issues.

Defenses against Psychological Stress

Conversely, being sick during the pandemic, acutely or chronically, would have weakened people's defenses against psychological stress. Some patients receiving treatment during the epidemic have reported experiencing anxiety and sadness due to their illness or the lack of care they have received. Both problems are made worse by the isolation and loneliness many have felt over the last two years.

Social Upheaval

Studies have shown that people's immune systems and ability to recover are impaired when experiencing acute mental and social upheaval. Patients recuperating from an operation or recovering from sickness are advised to relax, eat well, and exercise. However, their emotional and social Life may negatively influence or delay the healing process. When a patient is experiencing trouble recovering or keeping their health stable throughout a protracted stress episode, the BPS design might be one possible reason.


Unlike fundamental studies that aim to decipher psycho-neuro-immunological or psycho-neuro-endocrinological processes of illness and therapy, the biopsychosocial design does not promote the idea of Mind-Body Unity. The concept emphasizes a complex interplay between the medical and psychological spheres. In primary care, the biopsychosocial design can improve clinical outcomes by increasing self-management of patients' illnesses through a dynamic and dyadic doctor-patient relationship and a multidisciplinary approach to patient care and by raising awareness of the interplay between patients' biological, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being. The biopsychosocial design helps treat patients with long-term conditions and vague symptoms since it considers the individuality of each patient's reaction to their sickness.

Updated on: 03-Jan-2023


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