What Is the Biomedical Model?

The biomedical model is a Western system of medical diagnosis that addresses solely physiological factors, excluding the possible effects of psychological or social factors. It fosters the theory that mental and social factors bear no influence on biological diseases.

The biomedical model assumes all forms of illness derive from a pathogenic-related disease and that removal of the pathogen results in a cure. It rests no accountability on the behavior or mental state of patients in the cause, condition or treatment of an illness. Also, it attributes all symptoms and apparent manifestations of an illness to the disease itself rather than accepting a potential connection with mental disturbances. It falls short of accuracy because a description of an illness provided by a patient does not necessarily point to a biological basis.

The biomedical model experienced success after its emergence due to its effectiveness in treating infectious diseases, which were the primary cause of death in the United States at the start of the 20th century. However, the biomedical approach fails to eliminate the prevalence of chronic diseases that still haunt America today. Therefore, the U.S. health care system now encourages attention to social and mental factors that improve methods of prevention and treatment.