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(helth) A condition in which all functions of the body and mind are normally active. The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, or social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

environmental h. The theory and practice of assessing, correcting, controlling, and preventing environmental factors that can adversely affect the health of present and future generations.

industrial h. The health of employees.

mental h. Psychological adjustment to one's circumstance or environment; the ability to cope with or make the best of changing stresses and stimuli. Individuals are considered mentally healthy if they have adjusted to life in such a way that they are comfortable with themselves and, at the same time, are able to live so that their behavior does not conflict with their associates or the rest of society. Inherent in this, for most individuals, are feelings of self-worth and accomplishment and the ability to be gainfully employed with sufficient reward for that employment to satisfy economic needs.

population h. Public h.

public h. The discipline concerned with measures that affect the health of communities. It includes the study and practice of techniques that protect communities from epidemics or toxic exposures, predict environmental disasters, and enforce the laws that provide a safe supply of water and food. In the U.S. various government agencies (such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, and National Institutes of Health) are active in maintaining public health. Each of the 50 states has a health department in which at least one physician is the public health official. SYN: community hygiene; population health. SEE: table; preventive medicine; preventive nursing.

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Major Public Health Achievements of the 20th Century


Enhanced motor vehicle safety Improvements in sanitation and clean water

Discovery of antibiotics

Risk factor modification to reduce heart attack and stroke

Improvements in food safety and nutrition

Maternal/child care innovations

Family planning

Fluoridation of drinking water

Antismoking campaigns

SOURCE: Adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MMWR 1999; 48:241–243.

wholistic h. Holistic medicine.

health behavior, risk-prone

Impaired ability to modify lifestyle/behaviors in a manner that improves health status. SEE: Nursing Diagnoses Appendix.

Health Belief Model

ABBR: HBM. A theory used to explain health-seeking or health-avoiding behavior that is based on the assumption that attitude and belief motivate action. The model proposes that an individual facing health-related decisions weighs: 1. the likelihood that she may be at risk for a disease; 2. the gravity of the disease, were she to succumb to it; 3. the value of making choices that will prevent the illness; 4. the costs ...

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