Benchmark-Human Experience Across the Health-Illness Continuum

NRS 434 Benchmark-Human Experience Across the Health-Illness Continuum

Human Experience across the Health-Illness Continuum

First introduced by John Travis in 1972, the health-illness continuum represents human well-being graphically. The concept illustrates that a person’s well-being is more than the absence of illness and entails a person’s mental and emotional health (Kaakinen et al., 2018). In addition, a person’s health is not static but always changes as people move back and forth from health to illness and back. The health-illness continuum covers five stages, including death, illness, normal health, good health, and high-level wellness (Kaakinen et al., 2018). Therefore, the purpose of this assignment is to explore the health-illness continuum and how relevant it is to patient care. As such, various aspects will be explored, including an examination of why the health-illness continuum perspective is key in relation to patient care, how an understanding of the concept can promote dignity and value of individuals, a reflection on the state of health, and a discussion on available resources that can be used to promote wellness.

The Importance of the Health-Illness Continuum

            A health care professional needs to focus on adjusting the illness and wellness of an individual for better outcomes as illness and wellness are both dynamic. The implication is that a healthcare professional has to closely monitor a patient’s health status. Such monitoring is key in understanding every patient’s unique aspects to purposefully control the factors that impact well-being (Singh et al., 2020). Among health care goals is to obtain a high level of wellness, which is an extreme end of the health-illness continuum. By comparison, death and illness are both at the extreme opposite end. Therefore, the health-illness continuum impacts the treatment paradigm where death and illness are concerning while good health and a high level of wellness are desired and preferable.

The health-illness continuum is also important since it helps in improving the patients’ mental and emotional development upon the commencement of treatment while staying hopeful. The patients get motivated to undertake and concentrate on personal care for better results (Singh et al., 2020). The implication is that the patients successfully prevent physical and mental illnesses by measuring the continuum relevant to a particular individual. The health-illness continuum also helps identify the development achieved by the patient. It offers an integrated system that can appropriately track a patient and guide them through various health services for better outcomes.

Health-illness Continuum and Value and Dignity Promotion

The health-illness continuum fosters the promotion of dignity and values of groups or groups of individuals. From the perspective’s

Human Experience across the Health-Illness Continuum
Human Experience across the Health-Illness Continuum

underpinnings, persons should not be defined by their illnesses. Therefore, offering care to patients calls for putting the patient’s values first, and offering care to individuals having the same illness does not necessarily imply generalization (Papadopoulos, 2018). Again offering care to the same patient through various levels of illnesses is different. As such, the health-illness continuum is key in identifying and appreciating every patient’s needs, the correct or relevant care level, and the need to attend to patients as a group if they have similar illnesses. In most cases, individuals show different relationships with their illnesses, implying that the care efforts have to be guided by the patient’s values and dignity. Therefore, the care providers should be involved at a personal level with the patients and let the patient make decisions such as their willingness to allow the provider to invest in their wellness or illness. Therefore, through the use of the health-illness continuum, the healthcare providers can appropriately show respect and dignity to the patients.

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A Reflection on the Overall Status of Health

In most cases, an individual’s daily lifestyle substantially impacts the resultant well-being. For example, the types of food and physical exercise or lack of it impacts our illness or wellness (Papadopoulos, 2018). Therefore, my dietary selection and activities have been two of the most prominent factors affecting my weight. For example, by careful choice of foods and engagement in appropriate physical exercise, I have managed to keep my body mass index within the acceptable ranges. However, there was a time in my life when I was not paying much attention to what I ate; unsurprisingly, my body mass index indicated obesity. During such time and coupled with lack of sufficient physical exercise, my body has various complications such as heel bone pain. This triggered a determination to attend the gym and make efforts to reduce the use of foods that are high in calories. The end result was a significant weight loss, a better BMI, and a move towards the right side of the health-illness continuum.

Resources and Options Available

Resources are key in helping an individual tune their health towards the right side of the health-illness continuum. As indicated earlier, I have been on a journey towards ensuring that I maintain a healthy body weight and avoid the risk of having diseases such as cardiovascular conditions, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes as being overweight is a direct risk factor of these conditions (Leggio et al., 2017). I have embarked on researching the available options and resources that can support me. One of the efforts has been undertaking clinic follow-ups for the heel bone pain problem and frequent visits to a physical therapist. Therefore, one of the resources that have been instrumental is the use of gym facilities. Through constant care, I have known the non-pharmacological and pharmacological therapy options available. In addition, the physical therapist has been instrumental in giving directions on the diet composition, type, and modifications, and the right kind of exercise to undertake. Therefore these resources and options are key in maintaining the desired wellness and the right BMI


In conclusion, the health-illness continuum as a perspective is key in various aspects of patient care. By carefully understanding the five parts of stages, a healthcare specialist acquires an understanding necessary for appropriate patient care. Therefore, this discussion has explored various aspects of the health-illness continuum perspective.


Kaakinen, J. R., Coehlo, D. P., Steele, R., & Robinson, M. (2018). Family health care nursing: Theory, practice, and research. FA Davis.

Leggio, M., Lombardi, M., Caldarone, E., Severi, P., D’emidio, S., Armeni, M., … & Mazza, A. (2017). The relationship between obesity and hypertension: an updated comprehensive overview on vicious twins. Hypertension Research40(12), 947-963.

Papadopoulos, I. (2018). Culturally competent compassion: A guide for healthcare students and practitioners. Routledge.

Singh, A. (2020). Unit-1 Introduction to Health and Well-being. Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi.

A continuum refers to something that gradually changes, devoid of any clear points. Health is a variable factor that changes from time to time to adjust with the internal and external variables in an individual’s life (Meyer, 2019). Illness is an emotional state associated with the loss of health. The World Health Organization defined health as a state of complete wellbeing physically, mentally, and socially and not just the absence of disease or illness. The purpose of this paper is to describe the health-illness continuum and its relevance to patient care as well as explain my current state of health with regard to the wellness spectrum.

The Health-Illness Continuum

The health-illness continuum is a diagrammatic model of the wellness of an individual. John W. Travis proposed the health-illness continuum based on the assumption that an individual is not only regarded as healthy based on the lack of disease but also based on their mental wellness and emotional health (Rovesti et al., 2018). The continuum demonstrates the change in health whereby a person undergoes a range of health and illness states ranging from optimum health to death. Good health fluctuates throughout a person’s life. The model has two arrows facing different directions. The right arrow heads to a high level of wellness, indicating attainment of optimum health, while the left arrow heads to illness, disability, and premature death (Rovesti et al., 2018). At the center of the continuum is the neutral point with good health and no signs of disease or illness.

Nurses should take into account the health-illness continuum when providing patient care to establish which direction along the continuum the patient is currently. After identifying the patient’s position in the continuum, the nurse can help them go towards optimal health if they are in the direction towards premature death. If a patient is in the right direction along the continuum, the nurse can help the patient get to higher levels of wellness and to attain the desired optimal health (Dineen-Griffin et al., 2019). Furthermore, understanding the health-illness continuum helps the nurse determine the healthcare interventions to apply for a patient, including the health education to help them move towards optimal health.

How Understanding the Health-Illness Continuum Enables Me, To Better Promote the Value and Dignity of Individuals

The health-illness continuum has made me understand that for individuals to attain a high level of wellness; they need to go through three key stages: awareness, education, and growth. I have also learned that people’s attitude towards their health affects their health outcomes. For instance, if a person has a positive attitude, they progress towards the right side of the continuum, thus achieving good health. However, if a person has a negative attitude, they move to the left side towards premature death (Swan et al., 2019). Understanding the continuum enables me to determine a patient’s state of health and position on the continuum and thus take the necessary interventions to help them attain better health. Besides, it enables me to identify the risk factors that worsen a patient’s health, whether environmental or physiological (Meyer, 2019). As a result, I take appropriate interventions to improve the patient’s health and dignity. Furthermore, I also help patients prevent illness by providing awareness about diseases and risk factors and educating them on disease prevention and health promotion, thus promoting their value and dignity.

The overall State of Health

I have a good overall state of health as evidenced by lack of disease, infirmity, or disability. Besides, I have no history of chronic illnesses or frequent infections and no history of hospitalization. My hospital visits are primarily due to minor ailments and injuries such as flu, headaches, and minor cuts. A reflection on my general health and wellbeing revealed that I have lifestyle behaviors that support good health and wellbeing. Healthy behaviors include taking daily servings of fruits and vegetables and engaging in physical exercises about one and a half hours per day, at least five days a week. In addition, I attend annual check-ups to monitor my health and help identify early signs of disease and thus begin early treatment.

Unhealthy lifestyle practices detract from optimal health, including tobacco smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and risky sexual behavior. Tobacco and alcohol consumption puts me at risk of chronic illnesses such as COPD, hypertension, diabetes, and fatty liver disease (Dineen-Griffin et al., 2019). Risky sexual behaviors put me at risk of STDs. I currently fall in the right direction of the health-illness continuum since I am aware of risk factors for diseases. Besides, I have taken measures to educate myself on lifestyle modifications to better my health and reduce the risk of diseases and disabilities.

Available Options and Resources to Help Move toward Wellness on the Health-Illness Spectrum

Available options and resources that can help me move towards higher levels of wellness include community wellness centers, sports facilities, Yoga classes, and nicotine anonymous groups. In the community wellness centers, I can access health professionals to guide me in adopting healthier lifestyle interventions. In addition, I can access preventative services to help in disease prevention and promote health and wellbeing. Sports facilities include gyms, swimming pools, and sports fields, where I can engage in various physical exercises to promote physical fitness and prevent diseases associated with sedentary lifestyles (Dineen-Griffin et al., 2019). Yoga classes will be essential to promote higher levels of mental wellness. Lastly, I can join nicotine anonymous groups in our community, which will support me in the journey towards smoking cessation.


The health-illness continuum demonstrates the process of change in health whereby a person undergoes a range of health and illness states ranging from optimum health to death. The continuum diagram illustrates that an individual either moves towards optimal health or premature death. It can guide nurses in identifying the position where a patient lies in the continuum and the interventions needed to promote optimal health.




Dineen-Griffin, S., Garcia-Cardenas, V., Williams, K., & Benrimoj, S. I. (2019). Helping patients help themselves: A systematic review of self-management support strategies in primary health care practice. PloS one14(8), e0220116.

Meyer, M. A. (2019). Mapping the patient journey across the continuum: lessons learned from one patient’s experience. Journal of Patient Experience6(2), 103-107.

Rovesti, M., Fioranelli, M., Petrelli, P., Satolli, F., Roccia, M. G., Gianfaldoni, S., Tchernev, G., Wollina, U., Lotti, J., Feliciani, C., & Lotti, T. (2018). Health and Illness in History, Science and Society. Open access Macedonian journal of medical sciences6(1), 163–165.

Swan, B. A., Haas, S., & Jessie, A. T. (2019). Care coordination: roles of registered nurses across the care continuum. Nursing Economics37(6), 317-323.