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The Biopsychosocial Approach
George Engel was the first to propose the biopsychosocial model in 1977.
This model has prompted a revolution in medical thinking by providing an argument and rationale that better links medicine to science.
The biopsychosocial approach systematically considers not only the biological but the psychological and social factors, along with their complex interactions in understanding our patient’s health. The ‘bio’ looks at the muscles and tissues and the possible physiological pathology. The ‘psycho’ looks at how thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and behaviours such as fear, distress, avoidance, and coping strategies contribute to symptoms. The ‘social’ looks at factors that might influence the health of a patient such as economic status, culture, environment, and family circumstances.
When physiotherapists use a biopsychosocial approach, there is an acknowledgment that there can be a blend of both tissue dysfunction and psychosocial factors that contribute to symptoms. This thorough assessment will help target the right ‘driver’ of a patient’s symptoms.