The Fundamentals of the CAHPS Definition of Health
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition that is maintained with proper nutrition, regular physical activity and consideration for the health of the persons involved. Various definitions have been used for many different purposes over the years. It has become one of the most important aspects of public health and medical research and planning. The ultimate aim of health is the prevention and reduction of diseases and disability that can result in premature death. It is a condition that is inclusive of a person’s personal and family values. It is necessary to understand that health is a state of total well being.
A very important contribution of the global health care improvement strategy is the adoption of the universal definition of health. The Universal Health System definition recognizes that health is the achievement of a state of full life or health for an individual, group or the community. It further defines health as a condition arising from the entire individual, social environment and biological heritage. According to this definition, health care is a proportionate process that results in the improvement of the general quality of life of the community as a whole. Adopting the universal health system definition opens up a world of opportunity for health systems to provide for the health needs of all and address the various concerns related to health.
According to this definition, health systems should work in partnership with communities, families and individuals to promote the health of all. Joint management refers to an approach that combines health systems and address multiple problems, issues and priorities facing today’s population. Joint management includes coordinating and combining different activities of health systems to ensure that the public’s health interests are maintained and promoted. These include primary care, special needs, immunization and secondary care. This enables comprehensive health services to be provided to the entire population.
On the other hand, the definition also acknowledges that the social determinants of health include factors that affect both health and the ability to perform to their potential. For example, age, gender, social class, place of birth and social mobility are some of the social determinants of health. Therefore, care should be taken to create an environment that is healthy and one in which people can strive to their maximum capacities.
The definition recognizes two separate but interconnected aspects of health as a state of total physical, mental and emotional well-being. Physical well-being is largely affected by health, and emotional well-being is strongly influenced by the environment one resides in and the relationships they have with other people. The environment is therefore seen as an encompassing concept that encompasses all aspects of health – physical, social and emotional. Therefore, prevention and promotion of healthy behaviours are seen as a key component in promoting better health as a state of total well-being. This includes the provision of appropriate environments that promote health, such as healthy food choices, adequate recreational opportunities, safe communities, adequate educational opportunities and access to health information.
The third aspect of the definition recognized by the CAHPS is that the promotion and maintenance of a healthy community. Health promotion programs are an integral part of healthy communities. Healthy communities comprise one set of people with similar needs who can work together towards achieving common goals. This is seen as one way in which health care can become a sustainable activity. The third aspect of this CAHPS definition is therefore seen to encompass not only the promotion and maintenance of health, but also the promotion and maintenance of a healthy society in general. This aspect has been widely recognized and used by many health systems around the world as a way of ensuring that all aspects of the CAHPS definition are met when implementing health care into communities.