The term “medicalization” describes a society’s gradually expanding definition of what counts as a medical disorder. Conditions that used to be seen as natural processes, individual quirks, personal misfortunes, or moral weaknesses are socially constructed as diseases in need of medical treatment. Read the article by Fauber and Fiore (2016), “New and expanded medical definitions create more patients—and a lucrative market for drug firms: It depicts medicalization in fairly negative terms, as a source of profit for money-hungry companies, doctors, and others. But could medicalization have positive consequences—for potential patients, families, the advancement of health overall? Keep in mind some conditions not mentioned in the article that have been medicalized over the last several decades: obesity, infertility, menopause, social anxiety disorder, addiction, compulsive gambling and hoarding, kleptomania (compulsive shoplifting), elevated cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
Write a page evaluating the benefits and costs of medicalization for society as a whole, and/or for particular groups. Focusing on a specific condition may be helpful. If you can use concepts from any of the theoretical approaches, do so! And keep in mind that the goal isn’t to decide whether medicalization is purely good or bad, but rather to describe and analyze its social consequences.
I – Health and Public Policy Introduction: Social Policy is public policy that relates to health, employment, poverty, education and welfare issues and focuses on social services and welfare state. Social policy is the study of social welfare and how it relates to politics and society. Social policies refer to government policies relating to welfare, social security and protection of an individual in a state and the ways in which welfare is developed and administered in a state (Hill, 1986). The principal areas of social policy aimed towards government objectives of a welfare state are: Administrative practices and policies of social services which include health, social security, education, housing, employment and community and social care Policies towards tackling social crimes, and problems with unemployment, drug abuse, disability, mental health, learning difficulties and old age Socially disadvantageous issues of race, gender, poverty and the related collective social responses and responsibilities towards these conditions The broader subject area of social policy is heavily dependent on disciplines of sociology, management, political science, philosophy, law, psychology and social work. The aims and objectives of a British Welfare State highlight the importance of well being of every individual with a range of services provided to protect people in conditions such as sickness, poverty, old age and childhood and in such a sense , welfare is more than needs fulfillment and relates to complete well being of individuals. Welfare provisions are based on humanitarian, religious, democratic or practical concerns and involve economic and social benefits such as eradication of poverty and governmental duty and social responsibility (Hill, 1986). In this essay we will deal with the relationship of welfare and social policy with health care, especially within the UK through the NHS systems and department of health. For an analysis of health and public policy within the UK we will analyze the stages of health policy, the rationale for such policies and how these policies are carried out through a health service network. Health care coverage provided worldwide is given in a comparative chart below. UK, Sweden and France is seen to have the same level of hospital and ambulatory care services with USA showing lower levels of health care services when compared with worldwide standards. Health Care and Social Policy The definition of health can be given in terms of cultural standards in which health is a standard of mental and physical well being according to a particular society and a general good health is necessary to perform mental and physical activities optimally. Health is also defined normatively as an ideal mental or physical state. Health depends on several factors such as biological factors, environmental factors, standard of living, social factors, nutrition, and psychological or emotional factors (WHO, 2005). Improving sanitation systems, providing medical care and support systems and clean water supply to prevent infectious diseases are the general responsibilities of health authorities (Jones, 1995). Inequalities in health especially in the UK can be due to poverty, or differences in social class as certain categories of people may be more aware of their health and fitness needs than certain others (Graham and Kelly, 2004). Health policy in the UK is implemented through a wide health care network provided by the Department of health and NHS. The different branches providing health care in the UK include the Hospitals which provide care to patients for both acute and long stay illnesses and provide medical facilities such as emergency treatment, psychiatric care or continuing nursing care. The governmental emphasis is to minimize all long term needs which can be considerably expensive and offer a full range of care in the hospitals providing acute services. Primary care is more basic medical treatment and refers to non-hospital care including general family practitioners and general physicians, professions ancillary to medicine and domiciliary health care such as occupational therapy (Allsop, 1995). Ambulatory care is distinct from, yet a category of hospital care as it includes primary care and day care in hospitals. Public health policy is a general care strategy including preventive medicine such as screening and health education and several areas which may not be directly linked to health services such as housing, water supply, sewage disposal, food hygiene and general poverty and employment conditions which are also factors related to health. For health of a population in a state, public health needs and related issues are very important under the health care policy at a governmental administrative level. For medical care in practice, primary care provided by primary care trusts of the NHS and services of general physicians are important at a more social level. Hospital care and medicines provided involves the highest costs for the NHS, is an important political issue for the UK government and has the highest priority for the NHS health policy implementation (Wall, 1999). Some of the Health policy objectives and strategies on health care identified by the NHS and Department of Health are given below: (NHS, 2005) Modernization Policy Primary Care Policy Secondary Care Policy Integrated Care Policy Patient Centeredness or Patient-centered Care Policy Complaints Policy Occupational Health and Safety Policy Social Services Performance Assessment Policy Information Policy Within the organizational improvement plans, the NHS health improvement modernization plans (HIMPs) involve a three year planning framework and details roles and responsibilities for the NHS primary care trusts (PCTs) and builds on the Planning and Priorities Framework (PPF) guidance issued in 2002. Within this framework PCTs are responsible for developing new Local Delivery Plans (LDPs) and any additional PCT owned local plans (NHS, 2005). The planning of Health Policies for modernization and improvement of services within the NHS consists of the following six steps that are to be maintained in every organization and community: This is given by the Department of Health official report 2003-2006: identifying the national and local priorities and the key targets for delivery over the next three years agreeing the capacity needed to deliver them determining the specific responsibilities of each health and social care organisation creating robust plans which show systematically how improvements will be made and which are based on the involvement of staff and the public establishing sound local arrangements for monitoring progress and NHS performance management which link into national arrangements improving communications and accountability to the public locally so as to demonstrate progress and the value added year on year The areas of responsibility for NHS and Social services for health policy implementation are given in the table below. In terms of Primary care policy, the NHS and social care long term conditions model laid down health policies and models for long term care to cases already under NHS treatment. Some of the key objectives and targets within the Primary care policy are given as : earlier detection of the illness good control to minimise effects of disease and reduce complications; more effective medicines management; reduction in the number of crises; promoting independence, empowering patients and allowing them to take control of their lives, and prolonging and extending the quality of life. The three levels of the Health care delivery system are given by the Department of Health as follows: DH, 2005 Level 1: Supported self care – involves collaboratively helping individuals and their carers to develop the knowledge confidence and skills to care for themselves and their condition effectively. Level 2: Disease-specific care management – This involves providing people who have a complex single need or multiple conditions with responsive specialist services using multi-disciplinary teams and disease-specific protocols and pathways such as the National Service Frameworks and Quality and Outcomes Framework. Level 3: Case management – requires the identification of the very high intensity users of unplanned secondary care. Care for these patients is to be managed using a community matron or other professional using a case management approach to anticipate co-ordinate and join up health and social care. The NHS social care long term conditions model is given as: Source: NHS Organizational Health Policy The implications of NHSD complaints policy have been emphasized in a recent NHS report and include the following conditions Complaints Policy Implications: It has been recognized that how well the policy works depends largely on attitudes of individual members and the culture of the organization and although complaints act as potential sources of improvement of health care services, these are also indicative of the high level of dissatisfaction regarding current health care procedures. There is considerably higher level of complaints for family health services as it has been identified that in primary care services are n a small scale and informally managed and the role of individual practitioners are more important than the organizational network. Satisfactory and prompt resolution of complaints has been identified as important to improving health care services (Allsop, 1995). Three factors in particular are likely to be central to improving performance as given by the NHS and Department of Health a realization that complaints management is an explicit part of the performance management framework. The board of every NHS organization should be held accountable for the performance of the organization in handling complaints. And the board should ensure that: (a) all staff are adequately trained to deal with complaints (b) staff managing complaints have adequate administrative and technical resources and also access to managerial supervision and support; and (c) the complaints procedure is integrated into the clinical governance as well as quality framework of the organization. Consideration should be given to the development of a National Service Framework or its equivalent for the management of complaints. (NHS, Complaints Procedure National Evaluation, 2001) The National strategy for IT and computer services help deliver an up to date medical service to its people, through the NHS information policy. Some of the strategic directions of the information policy in the health care sector include: (See in Allsop, 1995; Wall 1995; NHS 2001 report) Specifying the level of national direction given for IT by evolving and simplifying management structure and responsibilities within both the DH and NHS at regional and local levels; to deliver change quickly following an implementation approach in phases – focus at a time on quickly delivering a limited portfolio of activity, nationally,that can be built on by subsequent phases; management of increased levels of funding with clear central direction and control; a structured partnering approach with IT Industry to deliver new IT systems across the NHS; coordination, acceleration and simplification of procurements to ensure we get value for money while moving at a faster pace, and cutting down on unnecessary time and cost to the health care industry Consideration of radical outsourcing options that can add pace and value to the programme; Emphasis on changed working practices in the NHS; Benchmarking progress against best practice companies Building IT and networking connectivity, so that all staff have the access devices they need to share information; and Creating national standards for data quality and data interchange between systems at local, regional and national levels so that even the public can have access to information stored and accessed at a national level. A National Strategic Programme for Health care modernization and improvement and provisions of services in general can be given by the following architectural model provided by the Department of health: Information Health Policy – Source DH Conclusion: In this essay we discussed health care and social policy in terms of its stages of development through a three year plan and IT approach specifying levels of health care services that are provided and NHS social care through interaction of proper infrastructure, delivery strategies and desired outcomes of treatment. The focus is on reducing waiting times for emergency treatment or health services at hospitals and primary care centers. We highlighted the importance of modernization, updated IT systems, primary care services, complaints policy and patient centered care as important aspects of health policy followed by the NHS laying down strategic programmes, directions and objectives for an overall health care system as a social and public policy. In the next discussion we would examine the rationale and effectiveness of such policies within the context of political motivations and welfare objectives.>GET ANSWER