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This article, ‘Your Conception Of Health’, I will be working on and updating over the coming weeks as it largely contains quotes from a paper I read when researching the previous article I wrote on values (read it here). I want to share the quotes with you now though.

The main findings from the study were:

  1. participants perceived “health” value as influencing all of life
  2. participants gave three distinct nuances of “health”

Meanings ascribed to the value “health” reflected concepts previously described in the literature. Smith concluded that there are four general conceptions for defining health. These are:

  1. clinical, in which health is the absence of disease/symptoms
  2. role performance, in which health is the ability to fulfill socially defined roles
  3. adaptive, in which health is a flexible adjustment to changing circumstances
  4. eudaimonistic, in which health is exuberant well-being, the full development of the individual’s potential.

In this study, participants described each of these variations. However, the predominant conception mirrored the eudaimonistic model. Participants perceived health as including physical, mental, and spiritual wellness, and constituting much more than the foods consumed.

It is paramount that the meanings of health be clearly understood. How one envisions health may be related to health behaviors. For example, in a study of normal and overweight individuals, Laffrey found that health-promoting behaviors were associated with the eudaimonistic health conception, while illness-preventing behaviors were associated with a clinical health conception.

Eudaimonism is a moral philosophy that defines right action as that which leads to the “well-being” of the individual, thus holding “well-being” as having essential value. Simply put it is a system of ethics that evaluates actions in terms of their capacity to produce happiness.

The author concluded that conception of health may be a more significant factor than one’s perceived health status for assessing health behavior. Other studies point to the importance of individuals’ health beliefs in relation to their behaviours.

One practice implication for health promotion efforts is to explore with clients/patients in greater depth the potential array of benefits a particular value might hold, apart from its definition. By allowing multiple linkages to be explored, previously unacknowledged benefits may surface, providing patients greater motivation to pursue the health promotion effort.

Your Conception Of Health: Conclusion

Exploring these concepts, thinking about them and speaking at depth about then can be of significant value. We see this time and time again working with clients and working wirth our coaches and mentors. It always reminds me of a book entitled Time To Think by Nancy Kline. One of my (alex) all time favourites.

It is for reasons, such as the above, that I feel strongly about the need to set aside time to reflect and think, or to have a coach to spend this time with. Someone who can provide some objectivity. Someone who can challenge us in the right way. Someone who can help us expand our thoughts, expand our reality. Someone who can support us to keep on developing – developing our health, wisdom, mind, intellect, resiliency….