Public Health Practice in Australia: The Organised Effort

By Vivian Lin; James Smith et al. | Go to book overview
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Distribution of health and its
Changing concepts and models


When a friend is unwell, you might visit them to offer comforting words of encouragement, some flowers and a 'get well' card. As you sit with them listening to their experience of illness, what are you thinking about their situation? Are you privately speculating that they are responsible for their illness? Do you hold them responsible for their own recovery? Occasionally, we all act as though becoming healthy is essentially under the control of the sick person—perhaps with some help from a doctor or other health care provider. Depending on their health problem, we may encourage our friend to eat certain foods, swallow particular medicines or a herbal formula, resume gentle activity or keep warm. But if you reflect for a few moments you may realise that it is not always the case that a person has much control over either developing an illness or recovering their health.

There are many factors that affect people's health. For example, a person who has a heart attack may come from a family with a predisposition to heart disease (geneticists and social historians have noted the tendency for specific groups to suffer from this condition). A person may have adopted risky behaviours like smoking in their teenage years because all their friends were smoking regularly (statisticians have repeatedly demonstrated how dangerous it is to smoke). After many years of working in the lowest status job in the organisation, a person may have been threatened with the loss of their job and eventually been made


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Public Health Practice in Australia: The Organised Effort
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