People of today live in an interconnected society. With the benefits of modern technology, science and industry, it is possible for many to lead comfortable and convenient lives. The global community influences those that operate within it, and they influence it in turn. Living in an environment together with many others, it becomes possible for individuals to be affected by the actions of various systems, groups, and people alike. This is especially true concerning wellness. As a term, wellness refers to a multitude of practices and approaches towards promoting human health. This can include physical exercise, dietary practices, daily habits, and even mental health concerns. The combination of all of the above forms the general well-being of an individual. Each society has its own standards of wellness, common practices, and beliefs about wellness.
Similarly, the environment a person lives in can influence their attitudes toward wellness practices, as well as their general view on wellness. Physical and mental health are not universal among populations, as there are many factors capable of affecting a person’s life. Social class, status, occupation, free time, identity, and the local community – all of these factors affect people in a specific way, leading to the formation of specific outcomes. Certain discrepancies arise from the lack of wellness in some communities, and the need to facilitate better wellness training for the majority becomes apparent. In this work, a specific practice in wellness will be examined, namely, health checkups. The overview will focus on the history of the practice, its effects, implications, importance, and future potential. Through studying a specific aspect of wellness, it will be possible to better understand how wellness concerns interact with people and society at large.
Lens Analysis: History
Historically, health screenings have been widely used to address a number of health and wellness concerns. Generally, such practices can diagnose and recognize a variety of diseases and conditions, allowing individuals to take the necessary precautions. The majority of adverse health effects can be prevented when illnesses are confronted at an early stage. The capacity of the individual to avoid disease allows them to live a richer, more fulfilling, and long life, promoting lifelong wellness. Such principles were globally understood to be true for many decades, but each nation tackled the subject differently. Ideas of health screenings in the US can be traced back as far as the 20th century. The screening process was enacted for a variety of diseases, making it difficult to fully understand the development of this practice.
Important to note is the connection between insurance companies and practices of regular medical screenings. Due to the way insurance organizations operated, it was beneficial to encourage early disease diagnostics. After the insurance industry made blood pressure tests mandatory, the practices of regular checkups became similar to those people perform today. This assessment, however, only includes the current understanding of checkups and screenings, and fails to mention the storied history of concepts underpinning it. Ideas of ancient thinkers and philosophers can be related to this practice. From the earliest definitions of illness promoted by Hippocrates and Sydenham’s classification of disease to Louis’s focus on health examinations, many medical concepts came together in order to create the current understanding of health practices (Walker et al., 1990).
The benefits of health screenings and checkups can be widely and easily understood with today’s standards of public knowledge. From a young age, clinical professionals, doctors, and educators advocate for regular health evaluations, as well as the importance of preventative measures. Despite this, however, a considerable number of people do not participate in healthcare screenings for a variety of reasons. Possible causes vary, including a lack of accessibility, resources, awareness, and potential stigmatization. A research paper examining potential concerns of the public regarding health screenings revealed that concerns of their participants often stemmed from being unable to cope with the potential news (Chien et al., 2020). In addition, the financial implication of being diagnosed with a disease for the participants’ families was a major problem (Chien et al., 2020). Overall, the authors concluded that addressing the different factors concerning screening reluctance is a difficult but necessary activity.
Other studies work on identifying screening-specific barriers to participation, which allow medical workers to better combat the problem and introduce solutions. Cardiometabolic disease screenings, for example, experience a heterogeneity of identified problems, making it impossible to develop a universal approach to combatting them (De Waard et al., 2018). Oftentimes, researchers note, people that are worried about the outcome of screening, or possess a negative attitude do not attend health checkups. Other factors, such as smoking habits, and age, have significant influence as well (De Waard et al., 2018). Similar to heart-related disease, other serious conditions often go undiagnosed because people are reluctant to participate in screenings.
The presence of hesitance within the population, as well as a lack of interest in one’s health, presents grim implications to society as a whole. The inability of some individuals to learn about their health, or a general disregard for wellness can be seen as a failure of healthcare education. Many poorly understand the role prevention has in promoting health, or lack the necessary context to take their wellbeing into their own hands. The presence of disparities in healthcare screenings opens up future opportunities for better education and more comprehensive systems of wellness promotion.
Natural and Applied Sciences
In terms of their medical necessity and importance, there are many reasons to consider healthcare screenings to be a regular and vital part of one’s life. For many chronic and terminal diseases, early detection becomes one of the only possible avenues for prevention. Cancer, in particular, remains one of the prime examples. Current statistics indicate that at least 30% of the population will die of cancer, making it far more common than most people realize. Modern science recognizes prevention as one of the primary methods of combatting cancer. According to the cancer awareness organization Canadian Cancer Society, it is possible to recognize the presence of cancer with regular screenings, kick-starting the treatment process, and preventing severe complications (Lee, n.d.). Less time spent on recovery and better chances of survival can all be expected as a result of regular checkups.
Other chronic illnesses, can also benefit from regular screening practices. A study examining the effects of screenings on kidney disease, diabetes, and cholesterol cancer found that all of the above conditions benefitted from medical checkups. Up to 34 cases of kidney disease and 210 cases of diabetes can be delayed with appropriate screenings (Conelius, 2019). Medical research such as this helps better understand the importance of health screenings in encouraging wellness and promoting a better lifestyle.
As discussed previously, screenings as a practice became the staple of the medical field relatively recently, owing to a combination of factors. For the US in particular, the unique aspects of the healthcare system contributed to the reluctance in adopting early preventative measures. The United States largely uses a private insurance system, combined with patient out-of-pocket payments. As a result of obtaining profits directly from patient visitations and treatments, the idea of preventative medicine can be seen as directly opposing the profit motive. A source notes that “public health initiatives in disease prevention (such as publicly financed chest clinics to detect TB) were seen as a threat to physicians’ income” (Henderson, 2013). This trend can be used to explain the inability of the US healthcare system to adopt health screenings until the 1950s. Another interesting aspect of preventative healthcare and screenings comes from their relation to public health. As discussed in the book, Making sense of illness: Science, society, and disease (Aronowitz, 1998), providing preventative care to the public was an issue of class and standing. Aronowitz states that the role of early physicians was to serve the middle class, meaning that concerns of the public as a whole might have often been left unattended. Health checkups and screenings, then, were a practice considered to be “beneath” the role of a doctor, hindering its adoption into common practice.
Seeing the subject of healthcare screenings and checkups through the 4 lenses helped to better realize its history, significance, and connection with the society at large. The historic lens provided the necessary context to understand the development of screening practices, their current state, and their relationship to the medical profession. Growing as a practice of public health which incorporated many emergent aspects of medicine, screenings slowly became adopted into the arsenal of every medical practitioner. The humanities lens lent more context to the issues present within the healthcare screening system, and the existing disparities in identifying disease within populations. The natural and applied sciences angle, then, discussed the data-driven benefits of health checkups, and the inherent reasoning behind their use.
Current data shows that early preventative care helps to delay many chronic diseases, including cancer and diabetes. Social sciences, at last, bring the discussion together by talking about the societal implications of health screenings in the US. The stigma behind adopting preventative measures, and their relationship to class and the public. Combined, the 4 lenses show that healthcare checkups are a vital part of promoting human wellness. Directly correlating with the individual’s ability to stay healthy, they are a necessary part of promoting lifelong wellbeing. However, there are still considerable issues to explore in this field, as the disparities within the population exist. The late adoption of health screenings, and a lack of health education within society present significant barriers to allowing more people to be healthy. Reservations people hold against health checkups, anxieties brought on by the financial and physical complications of illness – all of these problems must be remedied in order to encourage better public wellness. By encouraging more people to partake in health screenings, as well as emphasizing the role prevention plays in human wellbeing, it is possible to improve the health of the majority.
Aronowitz, R. A. (1998). Making sense of illness: Science, society and disease. Cambridge University Press.
Chien, S., Chuang, M., & Chen, I. (2020). Why people do not attend health screenings: Factors that influence willingness to participate in health screenings for chronic diseases. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(10), 3495.
Conelius, J. (2019). Primary care: Chronic disease prevention. Population Health for Nurses.
De Waard, A. M., Wändell, P. E., Holzmann, M. J., Korevaar, J. C., Hollander, M., Gornitzki, C., De Wit, N. J., Schellevis, F. G., Lionis, C., Søndergaard, J., Seifert, B., & Carlsson, A. C. (2018). Barriers and facilitators to participation in a health check for cardiometabolic diseases in primary care: A systematic review. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 25(12), 1326-1340.
Henderson, J. (2013). The general health checkup: Its origins, its future. The Health Culture.
Lee, S. (n.d.). Benefits and limitations of regular cancer screening. Canadian Cancer Society.
Morabia, A. (2004). History of medical screening: From concepts to action. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 80(946), 463-469.
Walker, H. K., Hall, W. D., & Hurst, J. W. (1990). Clinical methods: The history, physical, and laboratory examinations. Butterworth-Heinemann.