A Life Course METHOD OF Health Psychology Essay

In the first years, health issues were researched only in terms of single causes; one agent led to a definite disease. However, we have now know that the fitness of individuals and societies are affected by a combo of factors such as hereditary factors, living conditions, socioeconomic status and communal support networks. A life course approach to health focuses on all age groups and levels of life and takes into account a variety of functions that interact and effect people's health from delivery to later years ( Kuh et al, 2003) and also offers implications along the way health care needs of folks are considered. Based on the knowing that one's past and present life experience are shaped by the wider socio-cultural context, we can research the current pattern of health and disease of an individual by looking into and analyzing their earlier life happenings for signs into present health related behaviour (WHO, 2000) such as smoking, abnormal alcohol consumption, harmful diets and similar behaviours which may have adverse effects on one's health and overall physical condition.

Although, in the past, the Biomedical model of health which stresses on the biological determinants or external pathogens has proven to be effective in the control of massive infectious diseases ( Havelka et al, 2009), there's a crucial need to comprehend health and diseases from various other perspectives that take into account major important factors such as natural, behavioural and psychosocial processes that run throughout the life of a person and add towards both acquisition and attrition of physiological and emotional functioning. Such an approach supports understanding the development and course considered by various diseases, resulting in the formulation of preventive procedures and treatment strategies. A life course method of health emphasizes on incidents from all stages of life, starting from the intrauterine environment and throughout adult life, subsequently studying how such situations influence the chance for chronic health problems and health benefits later in life, which explains why the slim biomedical model has been broadened into a model that looks at not only the natural determinants of health but also the psychosocial and behavioural aspects.

On an easier note, life course strategy aims to comprehend how biological, psychosocial and behavioural risk factors during the fetal period, infancy, youth and early adulthood accumulate and raise the risk for several diseases. Timing of physical expansion and emotional transitions are known to be important in the manifestation of varied adult chronic diseases and for that reason strongly affects a person's capacity to be healthy (Osler, 2006). While one's hereditary makeup or exterior pathogens (natural factors) may determine the starting point of an illness up to certain degree, it could be debated that is intensified by various personal behaviours and societal influences. A classic example of a life course approach to health is the field of gerontology which studies how people era by examining an array of biological, psychological, cultural and lifestyle factors. Furthermore, if we were to consider cigarette smoking, a detrimental health related behavior and a frequently used example in medical research, we can say that although a person's family history of smoking( hereditary impact) will definitely boost the risk of participating in such behaviour, other factors such as contact with smokers( peer/societal factor) or the need to live up to the targets of others(psychosocial factor) will intensify the risk of smoking behavior which, subsequently, increases the risk for various health issues related to using tobacco, such as lung cancer tumor, later in life.

The need for a life course strategy lies in its implications for the way a person's health is assessed, formulation of treatment strategies based on past and ongoing situations and training of health care experts to equip them with a much better understanding of peoples health insurance and its fundamental determinants ( WHO, 2006). This newspaper focuses on the life course perspective on health, which is little by little becoming a competent framework to review health insurance and development of diseases, and also looks into the natural, psychosocial and behavioural processes that influence health throughout the life-span.


The practical capacity of the physiological systems that increases during the early on years of life extends to its optimum in adulthood and starts to decline thereafter; exterior factors determine the depth and quickness of both increase and decrease. Therefore the lifespan perspective is described by major ideas such as health trajectories, build up of risk factors, chains of risk, timing of subjection ( critical and hypersensitive cycles), factors that mediate and adjust the 'exposure-disease' association and different adaptive strategies (Wethington, 2005).

The life course point of view is a much broader strategy than the 'Barker hypothesis' or the 'Fetal origins hypothesis' which focuses totally on the relationships between early on fetal environment and development of diseases later during adulthood and old age. It takes into account the efforts of both early 'biological development' (Barker, 1992) and later adult lifestyle factors which lead to the formation of biological, subconscious and sociable chains of risks (Electric power et al, 1999).

A volume of researches (Smith, 2000; Lumey, 1998) and labor and birth cohort studies disclose the lifetime of critical cycles, not just through the intrauterine stage but also later in life, seen as a exogenous stimuli which may have lasting results on the structural and efficient development of physical systems resulting in lifelong health implications. For instance, fetal alcohol exposure during the first trimester is often associated with craniofacial abnormalities together with incorrect mental development (Fetal Alcohol Symptoms) as well as low labor and birth weight (Coles, 1994). In the same way, there are several sensitive cycles, mainly during child years and adolescence, when the timing of coverage plays a crucial role in identifying the introduction of lifelong adaptive strategies, cultural skills and health behaviours that contain immediate implications on development of health issues later in life. For instance, the time between birth to 4 years is very essential for 'sensory refinement' in children, whereby inability to attend to the differences in sensory stimuli can lead to a diminished potential to make sense of the broader sociable environment leading to deprivation of public interaction and formation of social associations (characterized by accumulation of anxiety and stress) that may eventually lead to undesireable effects on the fitness of individuals later in life.

Accumulation of risk factors as time passes also determines the probability of a disease taking place, for illustration people who belonged to a poor socioeconomic environment as a kid are more likely to have had poor educational attainment, exposure to poor eating habits and nutrition, air pollution, passive smoking, damaging lifestyle choices, microbe infections due to years as a child neglect and inadequate social support, all of which carries onto a similar design in adulthood and increases the risk of adult health problems such as poor disease fighting capability, cardiovascular system diseases, high blood pressure and so on (Kuh & Ben-Schlomo, 2002). In addition, the life course approach aims to comprehend whether such early on bio psychosocial factors lead to just additional risk or interact with later adulthood occurrences to intensify long term health conditions.

Hence, the life span course perspective combines the 'Early development model' and 'cumulative pathway model'; the past is concerned with Biopsychosocial occurrences in early life, beginning with the fetal period until child years, that have life-long influences while the latter targets lifelong deposition of stress through various public and behavioural prospects that ultimately influences an individual's overall adaptive system. So, this process focuses on the determinants of health from early developmental period and also over the course of lifespan where 'time' requires the centre level, concentrating on different 'exposure-timing' connections resulting in several health benefits.


Development of humans is characterized by a number of biological, psychosocial and behavioural functions, each with different levels of importance at different developmental phases, and which involves growth, maintenance and lack of physiological and mental health functioning. Individual development is, therefore, formed by biological, public and behavioural factors working mutually (Myers et al). It really is quite interesting to notice that development is multidimensional in nature, involving the body, brain and feelings that interact and produce significant changes at different levels in the life-span and so it can be argued that the occasions that take place during such interactions or the individual lifestyle choices one makes will lead to either deposition of risk or protecting factors that will subsequently determine the susceptibility of individuals to adult diseases or chronic conditions. So, the life course method of health focuses on understanding the average person aspect as well as the cumulative impact of such bio-psychosocial and behavioural factors that co-constructs development and also health over time.

A variety of behavioural factors or habits can have adverse effects on one's health. Some of the most commonly known factors include smoking, liquor consumption, dietary design, level of exercise, sexual behavior and substance abuse. While excessive usage of alcohol is associated with liver cirrhosis, untimely loss of life and hazards to health from alcohol related violence, smoking is one of the leading causes of coronary heart diseases, asthma, lung cancer tumor and a lower life expectancy life span by seven to eight years (NWPHO data, 2005). Furthermore, poor dietary design/habit proven during early years as a child can boost the risk for overweight or malnutrition, leading to further health difficulties later in life such as vulnerable immune system and finally a reduction in life expectancy.

Substance misuse and sexual behaviour (unprotected sex), like any other lifestyle habit, has devastating effects on health and standard wellbeing, and in virtually all circumstances they impact family and sociable relationships through occurrences such as teenage pregnancy, domestic assault, unrest in family members, etc.

Socioeconomic condition of people condition their risk for diseases later in life since both damaging exposures and opportunities are patterned by one's public environment, not forgetting the life selections we make that are influenced by our sociable experiences. People interact with their interpersonal environment on a regular basis and such relationships affect their health either immediately through psychobiological procedures (connection with anxiety and stress) or indirectly resulting in the development or changes of health related behaviours formerly discussed. The psychosocial factors that are recognized to impact one's health status include the communal support network, work environment (ideal vs. nerve-racking), work-home balance, sense of security, autonomy and so forth. Stress and anxiety brought upon by such processes can lead to various psychological issues such as lack of self-esteem, thoughts of worthlessness, that will in turn have an effect on the physiological performing of your body. This brings us to the knowing that psychosocial techniques or environment may have a job to learn in disease aetiology (Cassel, 1974). In addition, it can be argued that positive social support network facilitates behaviours that are considered healthy by the advertising of healthy eating, abstinence from chemicals and better adherence to treatments (Uchino, 2006).

In his paper, "Policy, Biology, and health", Bortz emphasizes that natural factors occur in various combinations to determine the functional well being of individuals. However the individual genome is often thought to be the best determinant of human health, there are other equally critical indicators that influence health and well being, such as hazards offered by the exterior environment (real estate agents) and deterioration of internal bodily performing.

The life course method of health is characterized by a temporal buying of formerly talked about biological, psychosocial and behavioural functions and is made on the view these factors interact and have a cumulative affect on the development and span of health issues in adulthood (Hertzman et al, 2001). So, the hereditary makeup of individuals connect to intrauterine insults and various socially patterned exposures during child years, adolescence, and early on adulthood that determine the chance for a number of health conditions and also makes up about socioeconomic, gender and cultural inequalities in health ( Kuh, Ben-Schlomo, Lynch, et al, 2003). This approach helps us treat some of the most common and emerging health conditions at the moment such as overweight, asthma and diabetes.

In a study by Lamont et al in 2000, lots of early on and later life factors were bought temporally and the inter interactions were examined leading to the breakthrough of several potential disease pathway. In an identical research by Eriksson et al in 2001, these disease pathways were found to be affected by lots of confounding factors and mediators and for that reason, depending on the type and time of coverage, the pathways can be predominant in another of the next areas: biological, communal, socio-biological and bio-social (Krieger, 2001). Specifically, if we consider breathing problems like chronic bronchitis, inappropriate lung development through the intrauterine period, in collaboration with later extraneous providers, will form the biological pathway to a greater risk of respiratory system dysfunction as a grown-up. Whereas if the individual's socioeconomic condition has led to negative exposures during years as a child, followed by harmful health behavior such as smoking, then your pathway to breathing diseases would be predominantly 'interpersonal'. Also, the 'socio-biological' pathway is seen as a the exposure to harmful biological realtors because of this of adverse socioeconomic conditions. Or it could be the other way around whereby consistent infections during childhood would come in the form of proper development, resulting in a low socioeconomic position during adulthood.


We can say that the life course method of health is dependant on the "Biopsychosocial model" that retains that both macro level and micro level procedures interact and produce multiple results on health. But the question arises as to how natural factors (micro level) and psychosocial factors (macro level) interact if they are on different levels. In order to address this issue, studies in health psychology adopts the "system theory", relating to which "all levels in any entity are associated with the other person hierarchically and that change in virtually any one level will effect change in all other levels. " Based on this understanding, researchers often take an interdisciplinary and multivariate method of study the interacting procedures, both in a individual with the macro level and keeps that the process of defining a sickness should always be achieved in terms of the natural, psychological and social factors (Oken, 2000). Health psychologists also carry out various possible studies to judge events or factors relating to a specific health, such as intervening the smoking behaviors of people in a single society and not in another and looking at the differences in the pace or prevalence of breathing conditions in both the groups. Potential longitudinal study could very well be about the most research designs that health mindset adopts in order to follow a group of men and women and evaluate them on a number of variables over an extended period of time and provides a good way of measuring factors influencing health of an individual. While correlational research has often been criticized for its inability to look for the path of causality, researchers often utilize the retrospective method of rearrange and understand days gone by conditions and how they lead to the present situation.

The life course approach to health has various implications for professional medical diagnosis of illnesses, development of treatment ideas and training of health care professionals. By evaluating the Biopsychosocial procedures underlying the life-span development of individuals, health professional can formulate treatment strategies and therapies unique to each individual; some may be a predominantly biological approach such as invasive methods while some may take a far more psychological stance like cognitive behavioural remedy or relaxation therapy. Therefore, we can understand medical status of individuals only by taking a look at them in the interpersonal and internal contexts ( Belar, 1997).


Health psychology strives to comprehend health in every its dimensions, recognizing all internal and external exposures throughout the life of an individual, supplying more importance to the situations that occur through the fetal period, youth and early on adulthood and their succeeding effect on adult health and development of illnesses. By downplaying the sooner assumptions that only current exposures or factors affect the starting point of a disease or that disorder is caused completely by biological brokers, it takes a rather multidimensional and multidirectional approach, taking into consideration the natural, psychosocial and behavioural functions happening throughout the life-span, their connections and the cumulative impact on one's health insurance and disease occurrence. In short, it integrates the lifelong development of people from the intrauterine environment to the larger sociable environment; a progression that has a series of sociable and biological factors that interact to determine the health status of people in the long run.

Health mindset, therefore, tries to explore all the underlying causes of unwell health and consequently develop treatment techniques to defeat them.

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