Health Psychology

What is Health Psychology?

  • Scientific study of psychological processes involved in illness, health and healthcare
  • Aim to promote or maintain good health, improve healthcare delivery 
  • Use psychology to understand health and illness
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What is Health Psychology? 2

  • Medicine and psychology work together
  • Health psychologists are holistic
  • Considers biological, social, psychological, environmental and cultural factors determine health and illness
  • Devise strategies to prevent poor health
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Traditional Medicine

  • Biomedical model of health and illness
  • Illness caused by organisms in the body eg. virus
  • Treatment should be physiologically based as cause is exernal - not in individuals control
  • Mind and body are separate entities - illness is not caused by psychological factors
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Psychosomatic Illness

  • Mental and physical illnesses are present and negatively affect eachother
  • A psychiatric problem occurs as a consequence of a physical illness
  • A psychiatric problem is presented as a physical problem
  • Somatoform disorders - physical problems or illnesses that only have a psychological cause, eg. body dysmorphic disorder
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Focus Areas

  • Stress
  • Cancer
  • Addiction
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic illness
  • Pain
  • End of life care
  • Lifestyle factors
  • Behaviour change
  • Illness cognitions
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  • Person-environment fit - Lazarus and Launier 1978
  • Different types of stressors include psychogenic, neurogenic and systemic
  • Models include: Cannon fight or flight, Selye General Adaptation syndrome, Holmes and Rahe life events and Lazarus transactional
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Stress 2

Severity influenced by

  • Controllability
  • Predictability
  • Ambiguity
  • Volatility

Coping with stress

  • Problem focused
  • Emotion focused
  • Avoidant focused
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  • 17th Century: Moral addiction - addiction is a moral choice to be punished
  • 19th Century: Disease concept - addiction is due to the substance being dangerous
  • 20th Century: 2nd Disease concept - addiction is an illness
  • 1970s: Social learning theory - addiction is learned behaviour

Health Psychologists interested in

  • Initiation - how and why does it begin
  • Maintenance - how and why is it maintained
  • Cessation - how can we change unhealthy behaviour
  • Relapse - why do people go back to unhealthy behaviour
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Chronic Illness

  • serious physical illness lasting more than 3 months with no known cure
  • Affects quality of life
  • Resilience can facilitate effective coping 
  • Stigma 
  • Management of illness focused on
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End of life care

  • Burden of informal care
  • Palliative care issues - commmunication, planning, fulfilling wishes
  • Physician assisted death
  • Grieving 
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