MultiFactorial Model

Many people dread the winter season because they fear getting sick. Some individuals can go the whole winter without getting sick, while others seem prone to catching what ever is going around. The Multifactorial Model examines how psychological factors (attitudes, emotions, and behavior), biological factors (pathogens, inoculations, injuries, age, gender, and a family history of disease), environmental factors, and stressors affect our health and illness. When we talk about people catching an illness, this includes anything from the flu to cancer. When the human body is faced with an illness, we rely on the support of our immune system to fight it off.

Psychological states such as anxiety and depression have been found to impair the functioning of the immune system, making the body more susceptible to contracting an illness. These emotions are developed when stress in an individual’s life is ignored and allowed to accumulate over time. A person becomes worried about all the unresolved stress and then tends to get angry at their self for repressing the problems for too long. People who remain in this state of stress produce corticosteroids from the body’s adrenal glands, which make it easier to get sick by reducing the production of antibodies that fight disease. People that have stress and concern themselves with a family history of disease, look at it as an excuse to adopt self-destructive behavior. Individuals with a family history of disease assume that he or she is doomed to contract it as well, but this is not true. A family history of a disease does not mean a family member down the line will absolutely inherit the condition. The only thing family history can tell us is that there is a predisposition or tendency, not a certainty, that these health problems may occur. In reality, it should make those with family history work harder to avoid problems, instead of giving in to an assumed dreadful fate. The attitude that there is nothing that can be done to prevent family disease, adopts behavior guilty of damaging the health that he or she believes is already influenced. Nearly a million deaths could be prevented by exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and controlling the consumption of alcohol. Many people turn to smoking and alcohol as a way to cope with accumulated stress; therefore dealing with these emotional problems not only helps your mental health but also reduces the risks of physical illness by getting rid of self-destructive behaviors that impair our physical health.

Psychologists have also found that individuals with a higher socioeconomic status (SES) tend to have better health and lead longer lives. Genetics play a role in that people with “good genes” may have better health and the ability to achieve high social standing. Socioeconomic status is defined in part in terms of education. People who have a lower level of education are more likely to obtain lower-paying jobs, which can be transposed into a low socioeconomic status. Individuals with a low SES are more likely to smoke due to lack of education. A person is less likely to smoke if he or she knows all the health risks as opposed to some one who does not have access to the information on the health risks of smoking. People with a lower SES are also less likely to exercise, thereby increasing the chance of becoming obese. Obesity is also greater in cultures that associate it with happiness and health as in Haitian and Puerto Rican groups. Poorer people tend to eat as a way of coping with stress and can become obese compounded with how heavily junk food is promoted throughout these neighborhoods. Any illness is easier to treat if diagnosed early; otherwise problems could progress past the point of treatment. A popular reason amongst people of lower SES to avoid seeing the doctor is that the visit is too expensive. Not having access to health care then contributes to poorer health of people in a lower SES. If health care is readily available, an individual will be able to have the problem diagnosed before it becomes too serious. People of higher SES tend to have better health and live longer because they receive education about the benefits of health care and early intervention.

Psychologists have concluded that individuals of lower socioeconomic status have poorer health from lack of education and the affects SES has on biological functions that influence health. Most of the health concerns within individuals of lower SES can be maintained by getting regular checkups and early medical intervention when symptoms arise. Self-destructive behavior developed by stress impairs the physical health of a person. Developing through collected stress, this behavior is preventable by exercising regularly, eating right, stopping smoking, and controlling alcohol consumption. The stress that produces this self-destructive behavior can be managed by dealing with, rather than repressing, emotions of stressful thoughts. Just because an individual chooses not to think about a stressful decision, does not mean that it is not affecting their attitude and behavior. Excessive worrying over ignored stressors will cause a person to develop anxiety. If this worry is not handled in a timely fashion, other stress will then pile on top of existing stress causing anxiety to worsen. After a person falls into a continuous state of worry, depression arises from the anger at one’s self for not facing all the stress he or she has encountered. By the time depression has come along, the emotional distress has continuously torn down the functioning of the immune system making it easier to get sick. Repeated stress forces the body to produce corticosteroids from the adrenal glands weakening the immune system’s production of antibodies needed to fight off illnesses. Psychologists have also found that students with larger social networks had less suppression of the immune system than those with fewer friends. The students with large social networks have a better chance of conversing with a friend about their issues to acquire multiple perspectives on how to handle a situation. Students who are socially withdrawn keep emotional stress buried inside, unable to express how they feel about this stress.  In other words, it might be a good idea to have a strong social network to draw upon during times of stress. A person’s health is better secured if stress is able to be expressed to caring friends, medical check-ups are scheduled regularly, and exercise is incorporated into every day lifestyle.

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