What Is the Social Model of Health?

The social model of health is a model of health promotion that takes into consideration a person’s social, environmental and economic condition. This model has been in use by health care workers since the 1970s. It recognizes that public health needs to consider broader areas, such as the influence of the community and public policy, when working to prevent disease.

There are three main models of health. Before the 1970s, medicine was primarily based on the biomedical model of health. This model focused on health education and the reduction of risk behaviors. It treated patients without addressing the influence their environment may have on health. The social model aims to address these issues to reduce social disparities in health care access. The third model, known as the ecological model of health, recognized that a person’s health behavior does not happen in a vacuum.