Encyclopedia of Immigrant Health

2012 Edition
| Editors: Sana Loue, Martha Sajatovic

Explanatory Model of Illness

  • Julia Lechuga
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-5659-0_272

The definition of the term explanatory model of illness underscores the non-universal nature of the manner in which illness is defined and experienced bringing to bear the thesis that illness is a socially constructed experience and not solely the result of purely biological factors. Studies on this topic began with the seminal work of medical anthropologist Arthur Kleinman. The term “explanatory model of illness” attempts to capture the idea that factors outside of the individual, such as culture, influence the way illness is conceptualized and experienced.

In certain societies, medical research and practice has been primarily influenced by germ theory which emphasizes pathogens as causes of disease. Germ theory gave rise to the biomedical model which conceptualizes individuals as physical and chemical beings. The term explanatory model of illness was developed to understand the way disease is experienced in individuals who do not endorse the biomedical model and thus, to quantify the...

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Suggested Readings

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia Lechuga
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral MedicineCenter for AIDS Intervention Research (CAIR), Medical College of WisconsinMilwaukeeUSA