The Inadequacy of the Medical Model

The standard medical model is an inadequate approach to solving the problem of FAS.' In the medical model, a physician takes a patient history, does a physical examination, makes a diagnosis, and prescribes treatment. The treatment either cures the patient--or not; at any rate the physician has fulfilled his or her responsibility.'

Yet, as predominant as the medical model is in the U.S. health care system, it is not without its weaknesses and faults. It is flawed because it focuses almost exclusively on the biological or psychiatric causes of illness while ignoring the political, social, and communal contexts in which health problems arise. It ignores factors, such as racism, social support, stress, and other elements of an individual's life-style, which are difficult to measure and even more difficult to treat. Because this medical-curative model ignores sociological causes of illness and disease, there is an inherent obstacle to taking a community preventive approach to solving the FAS problem.' While the medical model struggles to determine the impact of alcohol on a developing child, attempts to minimize the impact by encouraging pregnant woman not to drink during pregnancy, and attempts to find ways to treat FAS, it can not adequately address the prevention problem because it fails to focus on the sociological factors that contribute to women drinking during pregnancy. Without addressing sociological factors, no approach can be effective.