Health is essentially a state of total physical, emotional and social well being in which illness and infirmity are present. The term ‘healthy’ is generally associated with a person of proper age, having clean skin, free from major medical problems and with good general health.
The term ‘well-being’ encompasses the various components of an individual’s health; these include: physical health; emotional and mental health; and spiritual health. Health refers to the ability of an individual to live a long, healthy and productive life. It involves physical, social, psychological, and spiritual well-being. The quality of a person’s life can be determined by determining what elements are in his or her overall well-being. This can be done through evaluating a person’s personality, psychological, social and environmental aspects, and also by evaluating his or her health status, and by performing a variety of tests such as mental health screening tools, self-report questionnaires and interviews.
An analysis of the personality traits of a person, his/her relationships and interests, as well as other important aspects of the person’s life, help to determine the general quality of health that the person possesses and can be used by researchers and health care practitioners to help them understand the needs and priorities of their patients, especially those who may require specialized attention. Some of the many general personality characteristics that may be helpful in diagnosing and determining the overall well-being of a patient include: a high degree of self-acceptance; low degree of guilt; high level of creativity and innovative abilities; high level of tolerance; and positive outlook on life.
A psychological state of health may be measured by observing the patient’s behavior. An example of a simple test is the “Straits Test” which measures the patient’s reactions to a number of different situations. The Straits Test is widely used by both health professionals and psychologists as a basic psychological assessment tool, as it can measure an individual’s emotional, physiological, social and psychological state. Another simple, yet important, tool is the Self-Esteem Inventory, which is used to determine an individual’s level of negative emotions and feelings, as well as his or her capacity for optimism and hope. The Self-Esteem Inventory can be useful in aiding the assessment and diagnosis of specific disorders, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
General health can be measured by the patient’s performance in physical activities. Examples of these activities are the physical demands and requirements of daily living tasks such as bathing, dressing, moving, eating, and walking; activities such as playing games, hobbies and sports; and other physical tasks such as grooming and using the bathroom; and even simple physical activities such as brushing one’s teeth, exercising or doing household chores. These physical activities are often the focus of research, as they are very important in determining the quality of a person’s life, as well as determinants of the kind of life that a person leads. Other physical activities may also be used to determine an individual’s health status and level of comfort.