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Health is a direct implication and result of the human behavior. It is determined by a host of inter-related and dependent factors such as cultural, social, political, economic, environmental, psycho social and social, apart from the biological states. Wellness and illness are affected by the health decisions and behaviors of the individual based on an interaction of the social and personal events occurring in the individual’s life. Also, they are directly influenced by the interaction of psychological, social and personal influences on health apart from the biological state of an individual (Bunda et al., 2019). Inequalities and social influences also play a major role in affecting health decisions and behavior. Emotions, emotional state and stress also play a significant role and planning modification of behaviors around these aspects will help in better health promotion and outcomes (Jones & Creedy 2012). This essay will discuss the psycho-physiological aspects of health and how it affects the health behavior.
Overview of the Client
Mary, a 45-year old female, comes from a very remote community in far off Queensland. Her entire family and generations of relatives have always lived in Meru and it is a very small town and it does not have easy access to health facilities. The community is self-sufficient and receives mail and other essential items including monthly food rations delivered from the Port city nearby. The health services include a local clinic-namely Meru clinic, which are serviced only by two registered nurses, all year round. Doctors hold check- ups only in the dry season, every two months.
Mary has a two year old son named, Leu who developed a severe fever two months ago. His condition deteriorated rapidly. The RNs at the clinic suspected a life-threatening condition and immediately got both Mary and Leu airlifted to the Big city, 2500kms away to a specialist Children’s care hospital. Leu was given life-saving emergency medical attention and he underwent an amputation of his three fingers of the right hand and his right foot. He was kept in the ICU for a week and then shifted to the general ward. The plan of care is to keep them both in the Big city for at least a period of three months for complete rehabilitation of Leu and for counselling Mary around Leu’s health status and how to take care of him, in the changed circumstances.
Currently, Leu’s condition is improving and he is a happy and content baby and is cheerful in his mother’s presence. However, he feels fearful and cranky in the presence of stranger nurses. Mary is leaving the hospital more often and does not have a phone so she can be contacted, which makes Leu irritated and cranky. Mary is normally confident and well-respected in her community but, she is overwhelmed with the big city and having to visit the many government offices. She has no financial assistance and is in a lot of stress and is worried about her son and that someone will take him away from her. She sleeps in the parent’s lounge of the hospital and needs personal assistance but, is afraid of asking for help. Her family and relatives are visiting and bringing special food and community objects. She is happy about their coming, but is worried about where they will stay or eat in the Big city. She decides to seek help from the RN whom she has built a rapport with.
Factors Affecting Health Decisions and Behavior
The bio-psychosocial model plays a major role in determining the health and health status of the individual. It also plays a significant role in determining the complex social environments affecting health according to which decisions are made by the patient. This model of health will help in more effective planning of nursing interventions based on the idea of providing holistic and complete care to the individual. It lays emphasis on the interactive effect of the environment and the vulnerability of the individual – psychological factors affecting health. According to the model, physical, social and psychological threats lead to effect on the resources of the individual thereby determining the health decisions and behaviors of the individual (Prestwich et al., 2017).
The specific factors affecting determining her health behavior include the growing inequalities she has faced as a remote community, living in deprived conditions with very less to almost no access to quality healthcare and services. Her culture and her community influence coming from an ethnic minority living in remote areas are the basis of her health seeking behavior where, she is worried and tensed about her baby and is crying herself to sleep every night in the hospital. Her lack of access to improved socio-economic conditions makes her vulnerable and unable to access quality health services for her child which led to a worsening of his condition and amputation as well. Her inability to be able to seek help-financial and personal, her lack of confidence and her lack of health literacy and education also points to the complex psychological state of her mind that has developed in her because of her socio economic and social determinants of health which is directly impacting negatively on her health decisions and behavior (Adler et al., 2016).
The social influences and inequalities in Mary’s life, has had a direct influence on her mental health and health seeking behavior. Even though she was a confident woman when living in her own remote community, no exposure or access to the outside world is making her more vulnerable and sad and emotionally stressed in the Big city, which is impacting her decisions and health. The interaction between emotional state and physical state affects the treatment seeking behavior (Lee et al., 2017). Also, culture plays a major role in terms of determining the individual and specific behavior based on the collective cultural understanding and beliefs about health and wellbeing by the community (Kingsley et al., 2018)- as displayed by Mary.
Psycho-Physiological Aspects of Health
The psycho-physiological aspects of health when considered together, talk about the effect of both mental and bodily elements and how they together operate in an inseparable way and are interconnected with each other and determine health. The interactions between the elements of the entire person give rise to complex experiences known as emotions. There is a need to be able to efficiently regulate emotions in order to be able to have a sound mental health condition. Also, required is the understanding of how emotional states affect the health of an individual by producing direct health effects, on systems such as cardiovascular and immune system as well (McColl-Kennedy et al., 2017). As shown in the case study, Mary is extremely vulnerable, over-whelmed and scared with her situation. She is unable to handle her thoughts, feelings and emotions effectively and is showing signs of stress and worry along with crying spells as well. Her emotional vulnerability is directly affecting her mental health as she is crying herself to sleep and is afraid of seeking help.
Another major psychological factor making a physiological impact includes stress, which is known very commonly as a frequent occurrence. Stress involves a complete process of stimulus and response. Whether the situation is deemed stressful by the individual or not is determined by the experiences and the judgments made by the individual around the several aspects of the situation, like the appraisal of what are the demands of the situation and the capacity and resources of the individual to fulfill the demand. Stress also affects health and health behaviors and needs to be managed effectively in order to improve health outcomes (O’Connor et al., 2020). As in Mary’s case , she is stressed and worried about her living conditions, financial situation and personal inability to properly care for Leu. She is worried because of her lack of sufficient resources to take care of her son.
This stress is taking a toll on her and specific strategies are required to manage her stress. The RN must help her recognize and identify her emotions followed by the instilling of confidence in her and reducing her over-whelmed nature and calming her down, so she can seek and get the necessary financial help. Cognitive behavioral techniques can be used by the RN as a part of talking therapy by talking to Mary and controlling worrying or intrusive cognitions. They can be modified as well by talking to the patient and motivating the patient to change his/her behavior (Zettle et al., 2016). In this case, the RN can apply the same approach in helping Mary manager her stress and gain her confidence back.
Health and health behavior are a direct consequence of the physical, social, emotional and biological factors and their interactions. They are inter-linked with each other and are responsible for determining and affecting the health of an individual. Human behavior, reactions to situations and emotions and stress reactions produce both mental and bodily impact on the health outcomes. Effective management of the emotional, psychological and personal factors of the individual helps in producing positive health behaviors.
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