Creating a more powerful framework for research, teaching, and health promotion: an eco-biopsychosocial model

B.J. Milliron, M. Zegans, J. Deutsch
The well-known biopsychosocial model systematically considers biological, psychological, and social factors, as a means of fostering our understanding of health and illness. It flags myriad interconnections between biological, psychological and social contexts that affect health and wellbeing. This model, however, omits a crucial dimension, ecology, and its partial nature is consequential: curbing research, undermining communication, and preventing effective implementation of policy and practice. In contrast to the current biopsychosocial model, an eco-biopsychosocial (EBPS) model frames health and wellbeing as the consequence of complex interconnections among biology, psychology and social factors within the natural and ecological contexts in which they operate. In distinction to the conventional paradigm which treats sustainability, access and exposure to nature, foodsheds, watersheds, and food sovereignty as exogenous, an EBPS model includes these and other determinative factors. For example, EBPS is nutrition-inclusive; when applied, it will provide coherent ways of understanding how nutrition-related factors, such as dietary intake, food insecurity, and cultural foodways, are influenced by the natural environment, and how these interact with biological, psychological, and societal factors that together influence health and vitality. Using examples from current work, this presentation will explore three major benefits of expanding the biopsychosocial model into an EBPS model: 1) means of fostering meaningful new research; 2) a robust framework for teaching students across disciplines; and 3) new pathways for improvements in healthcare and health promotion.
Milliron, B.J., Zegans, M. and Deutsch, J. (2021). Creating a more powerful framework for research, teaching, and health promotion: an eco-biopsychosocial model. Acta Hortic. 1330, 261-268
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2021.1330.31
human ecology, biopsychosocial model, health promotion, nutrition, environmental health

Acta Horticulturae