One of the most widely discussed topics in healthcare and especially in pain circles of late is the Bio Psycho Social model conceived by George Engel. The BioPsychoSocial (BPS) model was developed in reaction to the dominant biomedical viewpoint that involves reducing medicine to specific diseases or pathologies that can be identified and treated and this model forms the backbone of most western healthcare systems.
Engel felt the biomedical model:
“does not include the patient and his attributes as a person, a human being”
But the question is, have we misinterpreted the BioPsychoSocial model?
Are we simply applying it in the same way as the biomedical model it was trying to replace?
It’s People Not Just Pathology!
We know that people’s experiences of pain and pathology differ. The same painful problem may manifest as huge issue for one person disabling them from work and reducing dramatically their quality of life, whilst another person may remain relatively unaffected. This has to be taken into account both in treating the problem but also how the person is TREATED by their healthcare professional, their family and social network and the wider healthcare system.
We can see below from Engel’s view that it is a bi-directional model that involves the layers in which we exist rather than discreet treatment targets as we now see.