What Are Biopsychosocial Factors?


Quick Answer

Biopsychosocial factors are the biological, psychological and social factors that are believed to affect human health under the biopsychosocial model. The psychological part deals with the thoughts, emotions and behaviors of a person, while the social factors deal with the socio-economical, socio-environmental and cultural aspects.

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The biopsychosocial model contradicts the belief championed by the biomedical model, which proposes that every disease process can be explained in biological terms. It is sometimes viewed from the perspective of causation in an effort to understand how a person's health may deteriorate as a result of bodily function. The model explores the concept that the body's state affects the mind and the mind's state affects the body. This method of reasoning emphasizes the need to handle all three factors — biological, psychological and social — collectively during a patient's treatment.

The theory for the biopsychosocial model was formulated by the psychiatrist George L. Engel at the University of Rochester. The concept is used in a variety of fields, including medicine, psychiatry, nursing, health psychology, occupational therapy and sociology. The biopsychosocial model has certain flaws that include the level of influence each factor possesses, the level of interaction between factors and an inconsistency across individuals. The biopsychosocial model is a technical term for the "mind-body connection."

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