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Wiegant, F., M. Bakker, W. Dijk, H. Prins and M.A.S. Huber. 2013. The Challenge of Measuring Health as the Ability to Adapt. Adaptive Medicine. 5(3):93-105.

Number of pages: 13

Type of document: Journal Article

More information on authors/freelancers connected to LBI :
Machteld A.S. Huber, M.D.


Language of document: English

Title in English: The Challenge of Measuring Health as the Ability to Adapt

Abstract / summary in English:

The pathophysiology of disease has dominated the biomedical world during the past few centuries. Lately, however, renewed interest has been observed in the phenomenon of "health". Even though this phenomenon has been defined in many different ways, an encompassing definition that can be aptly used by the scientific medical community to measure and quantify health has yet to be found. Processes known to underlie health are homeostasis, allostasis (homeodynamics), salutogenesis, adaptability, robustness and resilience. Together, they become especially important during times of stress and disbalance, allowing the body to adapt to a certain "threat" and ensuring proper functioning of the body. Focus on this ability to adapt could aid in defining health. In addition, it would allow health, as such, measurable and quantifiable. Bodily adaptations can, for example, be measured via a variety of changes in biomarkers and parameters, which reflect the capacity of various organ systems to respond and adapt to stress conditions. Potentially, specific stressors could be applied in research, to which allostatic and homeostatic responses of tested individuals might be measured. The addition of this dynamic component to the current definition of health would, thereby, mean a step forward in health research and could stimulate the development of new therapeutic strategies, optimizing current and future (preventive) health care.


Keywords in English: Health concepts and measurements; adaptability, allostasis, health, resilience, homeostasis