In this article, Havelka et al point out that the biomedical model was a valid model while infectious diseases caused by one factor prevailed and were the main healthcare problem for humanity, but now that chronic, lifestyle & non-infectious diseases with multiple influencing factors are the main health issue it is no longer effective or appropriate as the default model for healthcare. They are in favour of the biopsychosocial (BPS) model and say its implementation is taking too long. Their criticisms of the current biomedical model are:
the dehumanisation between healthcare staff and patients
continual improvement of increasingly advanced medical techniques leading to a rise in expenditure where only rationing of healthcare would allow for the continuation of technology-led healthcare (as opposed to psycho-social led)
reductionist i.e. reduces people to the smallest component -their cells- and separates mind and body in order to do this despite evidence to the contrary
Chronic conditions (such as COPD or diabetes) are increasing in Western countries like England and Holland. These long-term conditions need the patient to be active in managing their condition in order to achieve reduced financial healthcare burden and better quality of life for the patient.
In this way, evidence shows that a biopsychosocial model would benefit patient well-being and produce these financial improvements. However provision of care that starts from the medical, emotional or social needs of individual patients does not fit in easily with the current Dutch health care system.
So the biopsychosocial model is a great idea – how to implement it? Read more ›
Townsend et al (2006) write that traditional roles of psychologists are being challenged by the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) treatment now required in order to treat patients with chronic pain according to the biopsychosocial model.
Treatment of chronic pain was traditionally carried out according to a biomedical model- a patient after a car accident was treated for chronic pain syndrome but not assessed for PTSD, for example. Research has shown the efficacy of a biopsychosocial model in treating pain, where social and psychological factors as well as biological are taken into account. Turk (2002) reported patient benefits of the biopsychosocial approach (with regards to chronic pain) as increase in functional ability, fewer disability claims, and less illness caused as side effects of medical treatment or examination. Where treatment ie pain reduction is not possible, the MDT will aim to maximise the patient’s functioning.
Townsend et al describe a case study about a patient Ann who underwent intensive 3 week programme with a MDT to cope with her lower leg pain and end dependency on pain medication. In the case study, the OT’s role in the MDT was to incorporate the various pain control strategies into activities of daily living (ADLs), using for example pacing techniques and appropriate body mechanics. They could possibly have been involved with the functional assessment and assisted with outcome measurement.