The functions of medical care.
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The functions of medical care.

  • 1975 Jan-Feb

  • Source: Public Health Rep. 90(1):10-14
Filetype[PDF-973.68 KB]

  • English

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      Public Health Rep
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      Medical care has several important functions other than restoring or maintaining health. These other functions are assessment and certification of health status, prognostication, segregation of the ill to limit communication of illness, and helping to cope with the problems of illness--the caring function. Medical care serving these "paracurative" functions may legitimately be given indepedently, without associated curing or preventive intent of the provider of care. Although such services do not result in benefits to health, such as extension of life or reduction of disability, they do have other valued outcomes, outcomes not measurable as a gain in personal health status. For example, caring activities may result in satisfaction, comfort, or desirable affective states, even while the patient's health status deteriorates during an incurable illness. The physician's approach to patients, the economist's analysis of the benefits of health services, the planner's decisions about health programs, the evaluator's judgments about the quality of care, or the patient's expectations about treatment are strongly influenced by his assumptions about the purpose of medical care or the proper outcome of the process. When the health worker assumes that the only useful outcome is health, he may consider the paracurative services to be ineffective, inefficient, or undesirable. In contrast, when he recognizes and understands the paracurative functions of medical care, he may better perform his function in the medical care system.
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