Defining Health


With new fads and approaches to health popping up at every corner of the internet and in the media, it can be hard to know what’s what. Many people use terms such as complementary, holistic and integrative interchangeably, but their varied de nitions are often lost in translation. Cut through the confusing medical jargon with our glossary below.

Health: A state of physical, social, mental, emotional and environmental well-being beyond the absence of disease, illness or injury; sometimes called optimal health

Type of Care infographic
    Type of care
  • Conventional: Mainstream, Western medicine based on scientific research most commonly practiced by doctors with an M.D. or D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree), often centered on disease treatment and prevention; sometimes called traditional
  • Holistic: Healthcare focused on the whole person – mind, body and spirit – rather than just a particular illness, injury or symptom; it provides greater context to treating a patient’s ailments
  • Lifestyle and Self-Care: The practice of incorporating healthy, evidence-based behavioral and nutritional approaches to promote wellness
  • Integrative: Whole-person/whole-community care that is informed by scientific evidence and makes use of all appropriate preventive, therapeutic and lifestyle approaches, healthcare professionals and disciplines to promote optimal health
  • Complementary: Scientifically backed, non-mainstream health practices administered in conjunction with conventional medicine; sometimes called nonconventional
  • Precision: The practice of applying a tailored, individual health plan to a patient’s specific needs based on his or her genome, environment and lifestyle

“The future of health lies in an integrative approach that recognizes no two patients are alike. Our individual genomes, history, lifestyle and decisions make each of us unique and deserving of the best possible care. At UCI, doctors and allied health professionals will use scientific evidence, cutting-edge therapies and traditional medicine to pave the way for a healthier tomorrow.”

  • Dr. Howard Federoff
    Vice chancellor for health affairs and CEO of UCI Health