Overview[ edit ] Recent advances in psychological, medical, and physiological research have led to a new way of thinking about health and illness. This conceptualization, which has been labeled the biopsychosocial model , views health and illness as the product of a combination of factors including biological characteristics e. Psychologists who strive to understand how biological, behavioral, and social factors influence health and illness are called health psychologists. Health psychologists use their knowledge of psychology and health to promote general well-being and understand physical illness. Health psychologists work with many different health care professionals e. Many health psychologists focus on prevention research and interventions designed to promote healthier lifestyles and try to find ways to encourage people to improve their health.
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Overview[ edit ] Recent advances in psychological, medical, and physiological research have led to a new way of thinking about health and illness. This conceptualization, which has been labeled the biopsychosocial model , views health and illness as the product of a combination of factors including biological characteristics e. Psychologists who strive to understand how biological, behavioral, and social factors influence health and illness are called health psychologists.
Health psychologists use their knowledge of psychology and health to promote general well-being and understand physical illness. Health psychologists work with many different health care professionals e. Many health psychologists focus on prevention research and interventions designed to promote healthier lifestyles and try to find ways to encourage people to improve their health. For example, they may help people to lose weight or stop smoking.
For example, they may advise doctors about better ways to communicate with their patients. While many health psychologists provide clinical services as part of their duties, others function in non-clinical roles, primarily involving teaching and research.
ClHP is one of many specialty practice areas for clinical psychologists. It is also a major contributor to the prevention-focused field of behavioral health and the treatment-oriented field of behavioral medicine.
Clinical practice includes education, the techniques of behavior change , and psychotherapy. In some countries, a clinical health psychologist, with additional training, can become a medical psychologist and, thereby, obtain prescription privileges.
A major aim of PHP is to investigate potential causal links between psychosocial factors and health at the population level. Public health psychologists present research results to educators, policy makers, and health care providers in order to promote better public health.
PHP is allied to other public health disciplines including epidemiology , nutrition , genetics and biostatistics. Some PHP interventions are targeted toward at-risk population groups e. Community health psychology CoHP CoHP investigates community factors that contribute to the health and well-being of individuals who live in communities.
CoHP also develops community-level interventions that are designed to combat disease and promote physical and mental health. The community often serves as the level of analysis, and is frequently sought as a partner in health-related interventions. Critical health psychology CrHP CrHP is concerned with the distribution of power and the impact of power differentials on health experience and behavior, health care systems, and health policy.
CrHP prioritizes social justice and the universal right to health for people of all races, genders, ages, and socioeconomic positions. A major concern is health inequalities. The critical health psychologist is an agent of change, not simply an analyst or cataloger. Health psychology, like other areas of applied psychology, is both a theoretical and applied field. Health psychologists employ diverse research methods. These methods include controlled randomized experiments , quasi-experiments , longitudinal studies , time-series designs, cross-sectional studies , case-control studies, qualitative research as well as action research.
Health psychologists study a broad range of health phenomena including cardiovascular disease , cardiac psychology , smoking habits, the relation of religious beliefs to health, alcohol use, social support, living conditions, emotional state, social class, and more.
Some health psychologists treat individuals with sleep problems, headaches, alcohol problems, etc. Other health psychologists work to empower community members by helping community members gain control over their health and improve quality of life of entire communities. Origins and development[ edit ] Health psychology developed in different forms in different societies. One of the few psychologists working in this area at the time, Schofield proposed new forms of education and training for future psychologists.
The APA, responding to his proposal, in established a task force to consider how psychologists could a help people to manage their health-related behaviors, b help patients manage their physical health problems, and c train healthcare staff to work more effectively with patients. In the midth century there was a growing understanding in medicine of the effect of behavior on health.
For example, the Alameda County Study , which began in the s, showed that people who ate regular meals e. At the first divisional conference, Matarazzo delivered a speech that played an important role in defining health psychology. He defined the new field in this way, "Health psychology is the aggregate of the specific educational, scientific and professional contributions of the discipline of psychology to the promotion and maintenance of health, the prevention and treatment of illness, the identification of diagnostic and etiologic correlates of health, illness and related dysfunction, and the analysis and improvement of the healthcare system and health policy formation.
The European Health Psychology Society was also established in Similar organizations were established in other countries, including Australia and Japan. In the US, post-doctoral level health psychology training programs were established for individuals who completed a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. United Kingdom Psychologists have been working in medical settings for many years in the UK sometimes the field was termed medical psychology. Medical psychology, however, was a relatively small field, primarily aimed at helping patients adjust to illness.
The awarding of divisional status meant that the individual training needs and professional practice of health psychologists were recognized, and members were able to obtain chartered status with the BPS. The BPS went on to regulate training and practice in health psychology until the regulation of professional standards and qualifications was taken over by statutory registration with the Health Professions Council in They also recommend ways to improve health care policy.
They have also studied the association between illness and individual characteristics. Physical addiction impedes smoking cessation. Some research suggests that seductive advertising also contributes to psychological dependency on tobacco,  although other research has found no relationship between media exposure and smoking in youth. Health psychologists employ cognitive behavioral therapy and applied behavior analysis also see behavior modification for that purpose.
Preventing illness[ edit ] Health psychologists promote health through behavioral change, as mentioned above; however, they attempt to prevent illness in other ways as well.
Health psychologists try to help people to lead a healthy life by developing and running programmes which can help people to make changes in their lives such as stopping smoking, reducing the amount of alcohol they consume, eating more healthily, and exercising regularly. Those least able to afford tobacco products consume them most. Tobacco provides individuals with a way of controlling aversive emotional states accompanying daily experiences of stress that characterize the lives of deprived and vulnerable individuals.
Moreover, many individuals are often unable to apply their knowledge of health practices owing to everyday pressures and stresses. A common example of population-based attempts to motivate the smoking public to reduce its dependence on cigarettes is anti-smoking campaigns.
Health psychologists have worked to understand why some people do not seek early screenings or immunizations, and have used that knowledge to develop ways to encourage people to have early health checks for illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. For example, Kompier and his colleagues  have shown that a number of interventions aimed at reducing stress in bus drivers has had beneficial effects for employees and bus companies.
An individual who becomes seriously ill or injured faces many different practical stressors. These stressors can lead to depression, reduced self-esteem, etc. When there is little hope of recovery, health psychologist therapists can improve the quality of life of the patient by helping the patient recover at least some of his or her psychological well-being.
The individualism of mainstream health psychology has been critiqued and deconstructed by critical health psychologists using qualitative methods that zero in on the health experience. Health psychologists apply this knowledge to conduct research on a variety of questions.
How is stress linked to heart disease? What are the emotional effects of genetic testing? Health psychologists also train other health professionals in communication skills such as how to break bad news or support behavior change for the purpose of improving adherence to treatment. There are many problems in this process, with patients showing a considerable lack of understanding of many medical terms, particularly anatomical terms e.
Doctor-centered consultations are generally directive, with the patient answering questions and playing less of a role in decision-making. Although this style is preferred by elderly people and others, many people dislike the sense of hierarchy or ignorance that it inspires. Patients often forget to take their pills or consciously opt not to take their prescribed medications because of side effects. Failing to take prescribed medication is costly and wastes millions of usable medicines that could otherwise help other people.
Although the task of measuring and describing pain has been problematic, the development of the McGill Pain Questionnaire  has helped make progress in this area. Treatments for pain involve patient-administered analgesia , acupuncture found to be effective in reducing pain for osteoarthritis of the knee  , biofeedback , and cognitive behavior therapy.
Consultant health psychologist: A consultant health psychologist will take a lead for health psychology within public health, including managing tobacco control and smoking cessation services and providing professional leadership in the management of health trainers. Psychological assessment of treatment, development and delivery of a tailored weight management program, and advising on approaches to improve adherence to health advice and medical treatment.
Research can also be in the area of health promotion, for example investigating the determinants of healthy eating or physical activity or understanding why people misuse substances.
Once qualified, health psychologists can work in a range of settings, for example the NHS, universities, schools, private healthcare, and research and charitable organizations.
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