Subscribe to RSS
Towards a Common Understanding of the Health SciencesÜberlegungen zu einem allgemeinen Konzept der Gesundheitswissenschaften
11 July 2016 (online)
Objective: The aim of health sciences is to maintain and improve the health of individuals and populations and to limit disability. Health research has expanded astoundingly over the last century and a variety of scientific disciplines rooted in very different scientific and intellectual traditions has contributed to these goals. To allow health scientists to fully contextualize their work and engage in interdisciplinary research, a common understanding of the health sciences is needed. The aim of this paper is to respond to the call of the 1986 Ottawa Charter to improve health care by looking both within and beyond health and health care, and to use the opportunity offered by WHO’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) for a universal operationalization of health, in order to develop a common understanding and conceptualization of the field of health sciences that account for its richness and vitality.
Methods: A critical analysis of health sciences based on WHO’s ICF, on WHO’s definition of health systems and on the content and methodological approaches promoted by the biological, clinical and socio-humanistic traditions engaged in health research.
Results: The field of health sciences is presented according to: 1) a specification of the content of the field in terms of people’s health needs and the societal response to them, 2) a meta-level framework to exhaustively represent the range of mutually recognizable scientific disciplines engaged in health research and 3) a heuristic framework for the specification of a set of shared methodological approaches relevant across the range of these disciplines.
Conclusion: This conceptualization of health sciences is offered to contextualize the work of health researchers, thereby fostering interdisciplinarity.
- 1 Tountas Y. The historical origins of the basic concepts of health promotion and education: the role of ancient Greek philosophy and medicine. Health Promot Int 2009; 24: 185-192
- 2 Stucki G, Grimby G. Organizing human functioning and rehabilitation research into distinct scientific fields. Part I: Developing a comprehensive structure from the cell to society. J Rehabil Med 2007; 39: 293-298
- 3 Stichweh R. The sociology of scientific disciplines: on the genesis and stability of the disciplinary structure of modern science. Sci Context 1992; 5: 3-15
- 4 Becher T. Academic tribes and territories: intellectual enquiry and the culture of disciplines. Buckingham: Open University Press; 2009
- 5 World Health Organization . International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2001
- 6 Holbrook BJ. What is interdisciplinary communication? Reflections on the very Idea of Disciplinary Integration. Synthese 2013; 190: 1865-1879
- 7 Klein JT. Interdisciplinarity: History, Theory, and Practice. Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press; 1990
- 8 Gruber TR. Toward Principles for the Design of Ontologies Used for Knowledge Sharing. Int J Hum-Comput 1995; 43: 907-928
- 9 Jadad AR, O’Grady L. How should health be defined?. BMJ 2008; 337: a2900
- 10 Rubinelli S, Cieza A, Stucki G. Health and functioning in context. In: Riddle CA. (ed.) From disability theory to practice. Essays in honor of Jerome E. Bickenbach. Lanham: Lexington Books/Rownan & Littlefield; 2016. In Press
- 11 de Savigny D, Taghreed A. (eds) Systems thinking for health systems strengthening. Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research. Geneva: WHO; 2009
- 12 Phelps CE. Health Economics. 3rd ed. Boston: Addison Wesley; 2003
- 13 UN General Assembly Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948, 217A (III), available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b3712c.html [accessed 10 February 2016]
- 14 UN General Assembly Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: resolution / adopted by the General Assembly, 24 January 2007, A/RES/61/106, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/45f973632.html [accessed 10 February 2016]
- 15 Daniels N. Just health. Meeting health needs fairly. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2008
- 16 Rubio D, Schoenbaum E, Lee L et al. Defining Translational Research. Implications for Training Acad Med 2010; 85: 470-475
- 17 Stucki G, Reinhardt JD, Grimby G et al. Developing “human functioning and rehabilitation research” from the comprehensive perspective. J Rehabil Med 2007; 39: 665-671
- 18 Stucki G, Melvin J. The international classification of functioning, disability and health: A unifying model for the conceptual description of physical and rehabilitation medicine. J Rehabil Med 2007; 39: 286-292
- 19 Gutenbrunner C, Meyer T, Melvin J et al. Towards a conceptual description of physical and rehabilitation medicine. J Rehabil Med 2011; 43: 760-764
- 20 Meyer T, Gutenbrunner C, Bickenbach J et al. Towards a shared conceptual description of rehabilitation as a health strategy. J Rehabil Med 2011; 43: 765-769
- 21 World Health Organization . The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. WHO; Geneva: 1986. http://www.who.int/healthpromotion/conferences/previous/ottawa/en/index.html [accessed 10 February 2016]