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  • Psychology portal

}} Health psychology is the study of psychological and behavioral processes in health, illness, and healthcare.<ref>Johnston, M. (1994). Current trends in Health Psychology. The Psychologist, 7, 114-118.</ref> It is concerned with understanding how psychological, behavioral, and cultural factors contribute to physical health and illness. Psychological factors can affect health directly. For example, chronically occurring environmental stressors affecting the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, cumulatively, can harm health. Behavioral factors can also affect a person's health. For example, certain behaviors can, over time, harm (smoking, excessive alcohol consumption) or enhance health (exercise, low fat diet).<ref name="Ogden, J. 2012">Ogden, J. (2012). Health Psychology: A Textbook (5th ed.). Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.</ref> Health psychologists take a biopsychosocial approach. In other words, health psychologists understand health to be the product not only of biological processes (e.g., a virus, tumor, etc.) but also of psychological (e.g., thoughts and beliefs), behavioral (e.g., habits), and social processes (e.g., socioeconomic status and ethnicity).<ref name="Ogden, J. 2012"/>

By understanding psychological factors that influence health, and constructively applying that knowledge, health psychologists can improve health by working directly with individual patients or indirectly in large-scale public health programs. In addition, health psychologists can help train other healthcare professionals (e.g., physicians and nurses) to take advantage of the knowledge the discipline has generated, when treating patients. Health psychologists work in a variety of settings: alongside other medical professionals in hospitals and clinics, in public health departments working on large-scale behavior change and health promotion programs, and in universities and medical schools where they teach and conduct research.

Although its early beginnings can be traced to the field of clinical psychology,<ref name="Rogers">Rogers, R. W. (1983). Preventive health psychology: An interface of social and clinical psychology. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 1(2), 120-127. doi:10.1521/jscp.1983.1.2.120</ref> four different divisions within health psychology and one related field, occupational health psychology (OHP),<ref>Everly, G. S., Jr. (1986). An introduction to occupational health psychology. In P. A. Keller & L. G. Ritt (Eds.), Innovations in clinical practice: A source book, Vol. 5 (pp. 331-338). Sarasota, FL: Professional Resource Exchange.</ref> have developed over time. The four divisions include clinical health psychology, public health psychology, community health psychology, and critical health psychology.<ref name="Marks, D.F. 2011">Marks, D.F., Murray, M., Evans, B., & Estacio, E.V. (2011). Health psychology. Theory-research-practice (3rd Ed.) Thousand Oaks: Sage.</ref> Professional organizations for the field of health psychology include Division 38 of the American Psychological Association (APA),<ref>Division 38</ref> the Division of Health Psychology of the British Psychological Society (BPS),<ref>Division of Health Psychology</ref> and the European Health Psychology Society.<ref>European Health Psychology Society</ref> Advanced credentialing in the US as a clinical health psychologist is provided through the American Board of Professional Psychology.<ref>American Board of Professional Psychology</ref>


Health psychology sections
Intro  Overview  Origins and development  Objectives  Applications  Training in health psychology  See also  Bibliography  References  External links  

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