LEARNING OBJECTIVE: Recognize the concepts of health and illness.

To intelligently and skillfully discharge your duties as a member of the healthcare profession, you must first understand the concepts of health and illness.

The concept of health includes the physical, mental, and emotional condition of human beings that provide for the normal and proper performance of one’s vital functions. Not only is health the absence of disease or disability; health is also a state of soundness of the body, mind, and spirit. Conversely, the concept of illness includes conditions often accompanied by pain or discomfort that inhibit a human being’s ability to physically, mentally, or emotionally perform in a normal and proper manner.

In most cultures, when people need assistance in maintaining their health, dealing with illness, or coping with problems related to health and illness, they seek assistance from personnel specialized in the fields of healthcare.

Physicians, nurses, and medical technicians are frequently referred to as the core team. All health personnel comprise the total healthcare team. Obviously, individual members of the team use their skills differently, depending upon their personal, professional, and technical preparation and experience. Nevertheless—and despite the differences in clinical expertise—they all share one common objective: to respond to the patient’s health needs. The overall goal of this response is to assist the patient to maintain, sustain, and restore or rehabilitate a physical or psychological function.