Applying a Systems Approach to Common Medical Problems
The clinical application of systems theory to common medical problems can open up new perspectives on diagnosis and new options for treatment of patients and their families. This model, also known as the biopsychosocial model (1), is more than just adding psychosocial data to the biomedical data. A systems approach to health care emphasizes the interdependency and interplay among different levels of the system—whether it is, for example, the interaction among the heart, the cardiovascular system, the individual, significant others, or whether it also includes interactions among factors involving the family, the community, and the society-level systems that can impact health and disease. All interact with one another to affect the patient who walks into a clinic with a presenting complaint. Recognizing and acknowledging the interaction between these different levels of systems allows one to better understand those mysterious, vague, or persistent clinical problems seen in day-by-day practice. The art and science of applying a systems approach to health care turns on the choice of systems levels with which to work. Which areas deserve further exploration and evaluation? Which components might provide the most powerful leverage for successful treatment?
KeywordsCholesterol Fatigue Obesity Nicotine Schizophrenia
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 3.Minuchin S, Rosman BL, Baker L: Psychosomatic Families. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1978, pp 21–50.Google Scholar
- 4.Baker L, Minuchin S, Rosman B: The use of beta adrenergic blockade in the treatment of psychosomatic aspects of juvenile diabetes mellitus, in Snart A (ed); Advances in Beta Adrenergic Blockade Therapy. Princeton, NJ, Excerpta Medica, 1974, pp 67–80.Google Scholar
- 5.Baker L, Minuchin S, Milman L, et al: Psychosomatic aspects of juvenile diabetes mellitus: A progress report. Mod Prob Paediatr 1975;12:332–343.Google Scholar
- 7.Cerretto MC, Travis LB: Implications of psychological and family factors in the treatment of diabetes. Pediatr Clin North Am 1984;31:689–710.Google Scholar
- 8.Doherty WJ, Baird MA: Family Therapy and Family Medicine. New York, Guilford Press, 1983.Google Scholar
- 14.Heinzelman F, Bagley RW: Response to physical activity programs and their effects on health behavior. Pub Health Rep 1970;85:905–911.Google Scholar
- 22.Hoeper EW, Nycz GR, Cleavy PD, et al: Estimated prevalence of RDC mental disorders in primary medical care. Int J Ment Health 1978;8(2):6–15.Google Scholar
- 24.Watzlawick P, Weakland JH, Fisch R: Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution. New York, Norton, 1974.Google Scholar
- 30.Berenson D: Alcohol and the family system, in Guerin P (ed): Family Therapy: Theory and Practice. New York, Gardner Press, 1976 pp 284–297.Google Scholar
- 33.Steinglass P: The alcoholic family at home: Patterns of interaction of dry, wet, and transitional stages of alcoholism. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1981;138:578–584.Google Scholar