Health PsychologyHealth Psychology
Division 38 (Health Psychology)Division 38 (Health Psychology)
Education & Training CommitteeEducation & Training Committee
Regan A. R. Gurung (Chair)Regan A. R. Gurung (Chair)
Created 2008Created 2008
Sample Research Findings inSample Research Findings in
Health PsychologyHealth Psychology
One of the strongest predictors of who is likely to have aOne of the strongest predictors of who is likely to have a
heart attack among American adults is a hostile personalityheart attack among American adults is a hostile personality
trait and a tendency towards hostile interactions withtrait and a tendency towards hostile interactions with
After surgery, patients in a hospital room with a pleasantAfter surgery, patients in a hospital room with a pleasant
view go home sooner and with fewer complications thatview go home sooner and with fewer complications that
those looking at a blank wall.those looking at a blank wall.
Premature infants in the hospital given 15 minutes of lightPremature infants in the hospital given 15 minutes of light
massage per day gain weight faster and go home soonermassage per day gain weight faster and go home sooner
Keeping a diary where one writes about important thoughtsKeeping a diary where one writes about important thoughts
and events boosts the body’s immune system and improvesand events boosts the body’s immune system and improves
physical health.physical health.
Hostile and conflictual interactions with one’s spouse orHostile and conflictual interactions with one’s spouse or
partner can suppress the immune system and increase thepartner can suppress the immune system and increase the
risk of developing colds.risk of developing colds.
Laughter is a powerful painkiller.Laughter is a powerful painkiller.
Sample Research Findings inSample Research Findings in
Health Psychology (cont.)Health Psychology (cont.)
Some people with asthma can suffer full-blown attacks afterSome people with asthma can suffer full-blown attacks after
looking at artificial flowers.looking at artificial flowers.
People with few friends and who lead isolated lives are twice asPeople with few friends and who lead isolated lives are twice as
likely to die during a given time period.likely to die during a given time period.
After a heart attack, patients who owned pets were significantlyAfter a heart attack, patients who owned pets were significantly
less likely to die in the following year.less likely to die in the following year.
Blood pressure decreases when pet owners talk to their pets orBlood pressure decreases when pet owners talk to their pets or
are in the presence of their pets during stressful events.are in the presence of their pets during stressful events.
Men who performed volunteer work once a week lived longer andMen who performed volunteer work once a week lived longer and
were healthier than men who volunteered less than once a week.were healthier than men who volunteered less than once a week.
Depression is a stronger predictor of heart attacks and poorDepression is a stronger predictor of heart attacks and poor
recovery from a heart attack than high cholesterol or cigaretterecovery from a heart attack than high cholesterol or cigarette
When people watch tropical fish in an aquarium with their fullWhen people watch tropical fish in an aquarium with their full
attention, they lower their blood pressure and heart rateattention, they lower their blood pressure and heart rate
People taught relaxation and meditation techniques showed lowerPeople taught relaxation and meditation techniques showed lower
blood pressure and less complications during surgery.blood pressure and less complications during surgery.
The AreaThe Area
Psychologists who strive to understandPsychologists who strive to understand
how biological, behavioral, and socialhow biological, behavioral, and social
factors influence health and illness arefactors influence health and illness are
called health psychologists.called health psychologists.
The term "health psychology" is oftenThe term "health psychology" is often
interchanged with the terms "behavioralinterchanged with the terms "behavioral
medicine" or "medical psychology".medicine" or "medical psychology".
Illnesses related to Psychological/Behavioral factors:
Heart disease and stroke
Type II diabetes
Poor birth outcomes
Chronic pain conditions
Actual causes of death in the US *:
1. Smoking / tobacco
2. Sedentary lifestyle and poor diet
4. Microbial agents
5. Toxic agents
6. Motor vehicle accidents
8. Sexual behavior
9. Drug abuse
*Mokdad et al. Actual causes of death in the US 2000. JAMA 2004:291:1238-46
Half of all deaths that occurred in the United States in 2000 can be attributed to a
limited number of largely preventable behaviors and exposures (Mokdad et al., 2000).
This is where Health Psychologists are particularly effective.
Health over TimeHealth over Time
3000 years ago3000 years ago::
• Spirits, Mind, and body seen as oneSpirits, Mind, and body seen as one
Greeks onwardGreeks onward (e.g., Descartes):(e.g., Descartes):
• Mind and body separateMind and body separate
Age of Scientific DiscoveryAge of Scientific Discovery (17-19(17-19thth
• Rise of the biomedical model of diseaseRise of the biomedical model of disease
• Inventions drive health care (e.g., 1668 Microscope)Inventions drive health care (e.g., 1668 Microscope)
Beginnings of Health Psychology as we know itBeginnings of Health Psychology as we know it
• 1930s Society for1930s Society for Psychosomatic MedicinePsychosomatic Medicine formedformed
• 1970s Society for1970s Society for Behavioral MedicineBehavioral Medicine formedformed
• 1970s1970s Health PsychologyHealth Psychology formedformed
• Mind and body are seen as one againMind and body are seen as one again
Historical moments in health psychology
-Walter Cannon (1932) - stomach movements affected
by emotional state. Stress increases blood sugar,
epinephrine, BP, respiration rate (“Fight or flight”)
-Framingham study (1948 - ) - lifestyle factors are
significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease
-Hans Selye (1956) – physiological arousal from stress
leads to disease if prolonged or chronic
-Lazarus (1960’s+) – appraisals of events are critical for
understanding health outcomes
-Neal Miller (1970’s) – can learn to control bodily
functions like BP, intestinal contractions, muscle tension
-Robert Ader (1970’s) – classical conditioning of immune
system responses to immune-suppressant drugs
Health Psychology’s Main GoalsHealth Psychology’s Main Goals
Understanding psychologicalUnderstanding psychological
- on how we stay healthy,- on how we stay healthy,
- why we become sick, and- why we become sick, and
- how we respond when we do.- how we respond when we do.
GOALS of FieldGOALS of Field
1. Promote and maintain health (e.g., stop1. Promote and maintain health (e.g., stop
smoking, buckle belts).smoking, buckle belts).
2. Prevent and treat illness (e.g. reduce High2. Prevent and treat illness (e.g. reduce High
Blood pressure).Blood pressure).
3. Focus on cause and detection of illness:3. Focus on cause and detection of illness:
influence of personality, cognitive processes.influence of personality, cognitive processes.
4. Improve the health care system/health policy.4. Improve the health care system/health policy.
The Main Approach UsedThe Main Approach Used
The Biopsychosocial ModelThe Biopsychosocial Model
• views health and illness as the product of aviews health and illness as the product of a
combination of factors includingcombination of factors including
Biological factors (e.g., genetic predisposition),Biological factors (e.g., genetic predisposition),
Psychological factors (e.g., personality, lifestyle,Psychological factors (e.g., personality, lifestyle,
stress, health beliefs), andstress, health beliefs), and
Social factors (e.g., cultural influences, familySocial factors (e.g., cultural influences, family
relationships, social support).relationships, social support).
Biopsychosocial Approach to Health and Illness
Traditional biomedical model has limited usefulness
with current patterns of illness and the health challenges
of the 21st
Integrates biological, psychological, and social
influences in order to understand health and vulnerability
to illness and successfully treat disorders.
Addresses limitations of a traditional medical model
that attempts to cure disease. We are not healthy until
we become sick. Mental problems are not clearly
distinguishable from physical problems.
Sample Major TheoriesSample Major Theories
BEHAVIOR CHANGEBEHAVIOR CHANGE
• Health Belief ModelHealth Belief Model
• Theory of Planned BehaviorTheory of Planned Behavior
• Transtheoretical ModelTranstheoretical Model
• Fight and Flight responseFight and Flight response
• General Adaptation SyndromeGeneral Adaptation Syndrome
• Cognitive Appraisal ModelCognitive Appraisal Model
Current IssuesCurrent Issues
Interactions between healthInteractions between health
psychologists and medical doctors.psychologists and medical doctors.
Cultural differences in health.Cultural differences in health.
Technology and health.Technology and health.
Reducing Obesity.Reducing Obesity.
Where Do Health PsychologistsWhere Do Health Psychologists
Health psychologists participate in healthHealth psychologists participate in health
care in a multitude of settings including:care in a multitude of settings including:
• primary care programs,primary care programs,
• inpatient medical units, andinpatient medical units, and
• specialized health care programs such asspecialized health care programs such as
pain management,pain management,
women's health,women's health,
smoking cessation, andsmoking cessation, and
headache managementheadache management
• They also work in colleges and universities,They also work in colleges and universities,
corporations, and for governmental agencies.corporations, and for governmental agencies.
Clinical ActivitiesClinical Activities
Health Psychologists:Health Psychologists:
• Help measure/assess for mental andHelp measure/assess for mental and
behavioral problems,behavioral problems,
• Conduct clinical interviewsConduct clinical interviews
• Administer surveys and personality tests.Administer surveys and personality tests.
• Design interventions to help:Design interventions to help:
With stress management,With stress management,
Educate about disease and illness,Educate about disease and illness,
Ways to cope with disease,Ways to cope with disease,
Perform more health behaviors such as physicalPerform more health behaviors such as physical
Research ActivitiesResearch Activities
Health psychologists are on the leading edge ofHealth psychologists are on the leading edge of
research focusing on the biopsychosocial model inresearch focusing on the biopsychosocial model in
areas such as:areas such as:
• Compliance with medical regimens,Compliance with medical regimens,
• Health promotion, andHealth promotion, and
• the effect of psychological, social, and cultural factors onthe effect of psychological, social, and cultural factors on
numerous specific diseasesnumerous specific diseases
hypertension and coronary artery disease,hypertension and coronary artery disease,
chronic pain, andchronic pain, and
sleep disorders.sleep disorders.
Health psychology research examines:Health psychology research examines:
• The causes and development of illness,The causes and development of illness,
• Methods to help individuals develop healthy lifestylesMethods to help individuals develop healthy lifestyles
to promote good health and prevent illness,to promote good health and prevent illness,
• The treatment people get for their medical problems,The treatment people get for their medical problems,
• The effectiveness with which people cope with andThe effectiveness with which people cope with and
reduce stress and pain,reduce stress and pain,
• Biopsychosocial connections with immuneBiopsychosocial connections with immune
functioning, andfunctioning, and
• Factors in the recovery, rehabilitation, andFactors in the recovery, rehabilitation, and
psychosocial adjustment of patients with seriouspsychosocial adjustment of patients with serious
health problems.health problems.
Elaborate on career opportunities inElaborate on career opportunities in
this areathis area
Describe potential intrinsic andDescribe potential intrinsic and
extrinsic benefitsextrinsic benefits
Describe working conditionsDescribe working conditions
Describe training requiredDescribe training required
Potential for upward careerPotential for upward career
Other professional opportunitiesOther professional opportunities
Training for Health PsychologyTraining for Health Psychology
Health psychologists typically hold aHealth psychologists typically hold a
doctoral degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) indoctoral degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in
Applied health psychologists are licensedApplied health psychologists are licensed
for the independent practice of psychologyfor the independent practice of psychology
in areas such as clinical and counselingin areas such as clinical and counseling
Board certification is available in healthBoard certification is available in health
psychology through the American Board ofpsychology through the American Board of
Professional Psychology.Professional Psychology.
Preparing for a career in healthPreparing for a career in health
Obtain general psychology training at theObtain general psychology training at the
undergraduate and doctoral levels,undergraduate and doctoral levels,
Receive specialty training at the postdoctoralReceive specialty training at the postdoctoral
or internship level.or internship level.
• Predoctoral Internships:Predoctoral Internships: Clinical and counselingClinical and counseling
psychologists are required to complete a one-yearpsychologists are required to complete a one-year
internship/residency before obtaining theirinternship/residency before obtaining their
• Postdoctoral Fellowships:Postdoctoral Fellowships: Many university medicalMany university medical
centers, universities, health centers, and healthcenters, universities, health centers, and health
psychology programs offer specialized researchpsychology programs offer specialized research
and/or clinical training in different areas of healthand/or clinical training in different areas of health
APA Division 38 (Health Psychology)APA Division 38 (Health Psychology)
Major Journal in FieldMajor Journal in Field
• Health Psychology:Health Psychology:
Careers Page:Careers Page: