Health – A Complex Phenomenon


Health is a complex phenomenon. Unlike disease, which is recognizable and tangible, health is difficult to define.

The lay perspective on health appears to be characterized by three qualities: wholeness, pragmatism, and individualism. Wholeness reflects the perception of health as a holistic phenomenon that is interwoven with other aspects of life.


Health is a concept with many definitions. The various definitions differ in terms of assumptions, emphasis and values. For example, some definitions of health are rooted in biology and focus on the presence or absence of diseases. Other definitions are more holistic, embracing spiritual dimensions.

In 1948, the World Health Organization defined health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Despite this generally accepted view, there are some limitations to this definition.

For example, a person with diabetes can still be considered healthy if they are treated with medications and manage the condition adequately. The same can be said for people who live with HIV. The reason is that modern science can now treat and even cure certain diseases. This has changed the way we think about health. The lay perspective on health seems to be characterized by three qualities: wholeness, pragmatism, and individualism. Wholeness refers to the perception of health as an aspect that is interwoven with all other aspects of life, such as daily routines, family functioning and personal value systems.


Health is a complex concept. People often have different ideas about what it means, ranging from the premise that being healthy is about avoiding disease to the more holistic notion of well-being that encompasses all aspects of life.

It can also vary in meaning across time and culture, for example, the Greek philosopher Democritus connected health to behavior, while Hippocrates considered it a result of environmental factors, such as diet, exercise, the quality of relationships, and seasonal changes.

What is important for health professionals and politicians to know is that most people’s understandings of health are shaped by their life experience and values. As a result, changing the place of health on a person’s scale of values requires a wide range of social actors and cannot be done by the health sector alone (3). Health is a dynamic concept that is situated on a continuum with wellness and optimal functioning in all areas of life at one end, and illness culminating in death at the other (4,5).


Health science is the study and research of the human body and health-related issues to understand how people function, and how to improve their health. It draws from many subfields of science, such as biology, biochemistry, physics, epidemiology, and pharmacology.

The purpose of health is to promote and protect the well-being of people worldwide. It is a fundamental human right and is essential for sustainable development. Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Many studies show that a sense of purpose in life and life satisfaction decrease the risk of premature mortality and improve health behaviors. Moreover, health behavior-related diseases are also lower among people with higher life satisfaction and purpose. Therefore, understanding the influence of health literacy on both purpose in life and life satisfaction is important for national health promotion. Our study uses a cross-sectional design on Japanese health management specialists who gained health literacy in line with HJ21 to investigate whether purpose in life and life satisfaction increase after gaining health literacy.


Many factors influence health. Some are due to individual choice, such as whether to engage in risky behaviours, while others are beyond a person’s control, such as genetic disorders. Other factors are linked to the environments in which people grow, live, work, play, and age. These are known as the social determinants of health, and they affect a wide range of outcomes and risks.

Research has shown that there is a strong link between education and health. Those with more education are more likely to have better jobs, which can give them more time for health-promoting activities and provide them with better healthcare in the event of illness or injury.

A common view is that a person’s sense of health and well-being are connected to their perception of the meaning of life. This can be influenced by religious beliefs, the cultural and environmental context in which a person lives, and the way they think about their future.