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Putting Patients First: The Importance of a Patient-centred Approach to Healthcare

The biomedical model and the biopsychosocial model are two different approaches to understanding and treating health and illness. Each model has its own set of assumptions and implications for how healthcare is delivered.

Biomedical Model:

  • Focus: The biomedical model primarily focuses on the physical and biological aspects of disease. It sees illness as a result of abnormalities or malfunctions in the body's physiological systems, such as organs, tissues, and cells.

  • Reductionism: It tends to use a reductionist approach, breaking down complex health issues into simpler, isolated components to understand and treat them.

  • Diagnosis and Treatment: Diagnosis and treatment are often centred around identifying specific pathogens, physiological abnormalities, or structural issues. Medications, surgery, and other medical interventions are common approaches.

Biopsychosocial Model:

  • Holistic Perspective: The biopsychosocial model takes a more holistic perspective, acknowledging that health and illness are influenced by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors.

  • Interaction of Factors: It recognises the interconnectedness of biological, psychological, and social factors and how they interact to impact an individual's health.

  • Patient-Centred Care: This model emphasises the importance of understanding the patient's unique context, including their psychological state, social environment, and cultural background.

  • Prevention and Wellness: It also places a strong emphasis on preventive measures and overall wellness, considering lifestyle, stress, and other psychosocial factors that can contribute to health.


  • The biomedical model tends to view health and illness in a more linear and reductionist manner, focusing on specific biological mechanisms. In contrast, the biopsychosocial model sees health as a complex interplay of biological, psychological, and social factors.

  • The biomedical model often leads to a more disease-centred approach, while the biopsychosocial model promotes a patient-centred approach, taking into account the individual's entire life context.

  • The biopsychosocial model is more aligned with the idea of preventive medicine and promoting overall well-being, whereas the biomedical model may primarily focus on treating specific diseases or symptoms.


  • In practice, many healthcare professionals use an integrated approach that combines elements of both models. This integration recognises the importance of understanding the biological aspects of illness while also considering the psychological and social dimensions for a more comprehensive and effective healthcare strategy.

In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the limitations of the purely biomedical model, and healthcare systems are increasingly adopting a more holistic and patient-centred approach, drawing from the principles of the biopsychosocial model.


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