The mandala of health: a model of the human ecosystem | Prof Trevor Hancock (1985)

IN RECENT years a major transformation in the understanding of health and disease has taken place. The emphasis has shifted from a simplistic, reductionist cause-and-effect view of the medical model to a complex, holistic, interactive, hierarchic systems view known as an ecologic model. That shift may be so profound as to constitute a paradigm shift or a change in the collective mind set and world view regarding what the rules are and what is possible.1

An ecologic model of human health is consistent with the broad field of human ecology, which is “the study of the interactions of man and human society with the environment. It is concerned with the philosophy and quality of life in relation to the development of biological and geological resources, of urban and rural settlements, of industry and technology and of education and culture.”2(p1)

To paraphrase Pierre Dansereau,3 human ecology is the study of the issues that lie at the intersection of environment and culture. Public health lies within the broad field of human ecology.4 A public health model of the human ecosystem, such as the one that follows, helps greatly to clarify the interaction of culture with environment within the context of the holistic, interactive, and hierarchic nature of health. Read More