What is health?

PHAB takes a broad view of health as a state that enables people to do valued life activities. Health can be understood as: 

  • a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. (World Health Organization, 1947)
  • a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living; it is a positive concept, emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities. (Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, 1986)
  • conditions that enable a person to work to achieve his or her biological and chosen potential. (Seedhouse D. Health: the foundations for achievement. 2nd ed. New York: Wiley; 2001).
  • membership in a community. (Berry W. Health is membership. In: Wirzba N, ed. The Art of the Commonplace : the agrarian essays of Wendell Berry. Berkeley: Counterpoint : Distributed by Publishers Group West; 2002:144-158.)
  • the biological, social, and psychological ability that affords an equal opportunity for each individual to function in the relationships appropriate to his or her cultural context at any point in the life cycle. (Fine M, Peters JW. The Nature of Health: How America Lost, and Can Regain, A Basic Human Value. Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Radcliffe Publishing Limited; 2007)
  • the ability to develop meaningful relationships and pursue a transcendent purpose in a finite life. (Stange, 2010)

Among these definitions, a concept is emerging of health as a resource to support meaningful work and connection.