1.1 Definition of Health

Health is mostly an abstract concept that many of us find difficult to define.

  • In the picture above do you see someone healthy ?
  • When thinking about health are you referring to the physical and functional health of the body, or is it some other aspect of the individual?

Now take a look at the pictures below and try to answer the same questions above......

Australian women's wheelchair basketballer Liesl Tesch shoots from inside the key in the game against USA at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games


What it the importance of defining health ?

This is because if the goal of research and healthcare is ‘health’, then we need to khow what it looks like and how we measure it. A study of health beliefs of elderly people living in Aberdeen concluded that people could still consider themselves, or others, healthy even though they may be badly diseased.

Here are some definitions of Health & Healthiness;

1. The World Health Organisation (1948) definition is the most commonly referenced;

"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity".

2. Seedhouse D. (1986) states:

"Health is made up of a number of factors which help people to achieve their maximum personal potential".

3. Williams R (1993) writes;

 “Wholeness or integrity of the person, their inner strength and ability to cope”. 

4. Huber M and colleagues (2011) have criticized the WHO definition to be no longer fit for purpose in the light of increasing chronic conditions. They proposed changing the emphasis towards the ability to adapt and self manage in the face of social, physical, and emotional challenges. They define health as;

“The ability to adapt and self manage in the face of social, physical, and
emotional challenges".



1. Question: Which of the following do you consider to be important constituents for Good Health?
(tick all that apply)