Social Ecology in the Digital Age: Chapter 5 - Promoting Personal and Public Health

Elsevier, Social Ecology in the Digital Age, 2018, Pages 137-179
Daniel Stokols

This chapter addresses the challenges of promoting personal and population health from the different vantage points of biomedical, biopsychosocial, and social ecological models. Over the past century, biomedical theories of illness (e.g., the germ theory) have been subsumed by broader transdisciplinary conceptions of illness, disease prevention, and health promotion. Social ecology incorporates biological, psychological, and sociocultural determinants of health, as well as physical environmental health threats such as air and water pollution, ultraviolet radiation, global warming, and urban stressors such as noise and overcrowding. People's access to restorative natural settings, well-designed neighborhoods and homes, on the other hand, are environmental resources that enhance well-being. Several studies suggest that community rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, substance abuse, and unintentional injuries can be better understood and more effectively reduced through social ecological approaches. The chapter also considers digital health innovations such as telemedicine and online health care, wearable and wireless biometric devices, and analyses of very large data sets to track personal and population risk factors for disease.