The Health-Illness Continuum

Human health is never static, and even if someone has not had diseases for a long time, even headaches or fatigue are manifestations of illness. The health-illness continuum also explains human health as an ever-changing and dynamic structure that can be improved or worsened. Nurses need to understand and remember the concept of the health-illness continuum to motivate patients’ moving to a high level of wellness despite their chronic conditions.

The health-illness continuum is a simple concept as each person has gone through almost all parts of the spectrum at least once in a lifetime. According to this theory, a high level of wellness and death due to diseases are located on different sides of the continuum, next to them is the level of good health and illnesses, and in the center, there is a neutral zone (Burke, 2019).

The complete absence of any complaints is a high level of wellness, and patients with chronic diseases can also achieve this level of health if their ailments are controlled and people indicate themselves as healthy. At the same time, a person without any physiological manifestations of the illness may relate to the negative part of the spectrum if he or she feels depressed, stressed, and unhappy.

Consequently, nurses need to understand and accept the concept of the continuum to improve the patient’s condition. A nurse can affect the patients’ health and treatment by using such practical means as medication and procedures and by explaining to them the importance of a positive approach to their health. For example, a person who was first diagnosed with diabetes is in the phase of the illnesses in the continuum; however, diet, healthy lifestyle, and medications will make his or her diagnosis almost unnoticeable. Nurses should explain this factor to the patients since a positive and correct approach to their health helps to improve it.

I am in the phase of good health now since I have no illnesses, but I often feel tired and depressed due to lack of sleep and external factors that make me worry. In general, I eat well, do not abuse junk food and lots of sugar, and these habits push me to the side of my wellness. However, I am too worried about some external factors, which makes me feel depressed. It is also difficult for me to go to bed on time, so I often lack sleep, which makes me tired and anxious. Therefore, I need to keep the day schedule more clearly and go to bed no later than 11 pm, as well as learn how to cope with stress and pay less attention to trifles.

In general, nurses can use a wide range of resources to improve patient health. Firstly, these are medical tools that help treat diseases or recover from operations. These measures may include medication, exercise, massage, and other treatments. Besides, according to Dean (2016), biotechnology is increasingly becoming part of the health-disease continuum; thus, such instruments as insulin pumps or pacemakers can also be used to care about patient health. However, another critical aspect is the spiritual or moral support of patients, since it helps people cope with their condition and continue to move towards a high level of wellness on their own (Swanson, Thompson, Valentz, Doerner, & Jezek, 2019). In this case, the primary tool of each person is healthy habits that correspond to the needs of his or her body.

Therefore, the health-illness continuum is a concept that explains the changes in a person’s well-being over time and the possibility of influencing it. Nurses need to understand and use this concept to ensure the best care for patients in the hospital and after discharge. This understanding helps people to live a happy life despite their chronic diseases, and it pushes them to realize the importance of their health.


Burke, A. (2019). . Web.

Dean, P. J. (2016). Nursing considerations for an emerging and enlarging symbiosis between technology and integrative human health: Need for a systematized base for caring science. International Journal of Human Caring, 20(4), 171–175.

Swanson, C., Thompson, A., Valentz, R., Doerner, L., & Jezek, K. (2019). Theory of nursing for the whole person. Journal of Christian Nursing, 36(4), 222–227.

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