Biopsychosocial Model

  • BPS model is an interdisciplinary model that assumes that health and wellness are caused by a complex interaction of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors.
  • This model was first explained by by psychiatrist George L. Engel in Science journal in 1977.
  • This model is based on the system perspective.
  • BPS model rejected biomedical model as dogma.
Theoretical Sources
  • General systems theory (von Bertalanffy)
  • Social cognitive theory
  • Cybernetics (von Neumann)
  • Information theory
  • Game theory
  • “Holistic” biology (Dubos, Mayr)
Major Concepts
  • This model states mind, body, and environment interact in causing disease.
  • Biological component of the model refers to the fact that pathogens like germs and toxins precipitate illness.
  • Psychological/behavioural component looks for potential psychological causes for a health problem such lack of self-control, emotional turmoil, and negative thinking.
  • The social part of the BPS model explains how different social factors such as socioeconomic status, culture, poverty, technology, and religion can influence health.
  • The model presumes that it is important to handle these three factors together when managing health problems.
Application of BPS Model
  • E.g. Social isolation and joblessness -------> depression/self-incrimination/sedentary lifestyle ------> hypercholestrolemia/myocardial infarction/diabetes
  • BPS model implies that treatment of cancer/diabetes/mental disorders should address biological, psychological and social components of the problem.
  • Multi Axial dimension to APA classification of mental disorders - DSM IV and WHOO ICD-10 classification of mental disorders are efforts to apply BPS in mental health care.
  1. Engel GL. The need for a new medical model: a challenge for biomedicine. Science. 1977;196:129–36.
  2. Engel GL. The clinical application of the biopsychosocial model. Am J Psychiatry 1980; 137:535-544 .
  3. Psychiatry, Third Edition. Ers. Allan Tasman, Jerald Kay, Jeffrey A. Lieberman, Michael B. First and Mario Maj.John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2008.


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