What is Health Psychology? Its role in treating illness

What is Health Psychology? Its role in treating illness


Health psychology is a branch of psychology that that emphasizes how behavioral, biological, social and psychological factors impact the health and illness in beings. At times, behavioral medicine and medical psychology are the terms used to refer to health psychology. Health and illness are impacted by several factors. Although some illnesses are genetically transferred into offspring, which is quite common, but it can't be denied that the psychological and behavioral factors play a major role in several medical conditions and physical wellness of the person. This branch of psychology emphasizes not only how prevention and treatment of illness and diseases can occur, but also promotes the health and well-being amongst people.

Psychologists in this field are focused on determining the reaction of people to, coping mechanisms they use for, and treatment methods for the disease or illness they are diagnosed with. There are several health psychologists that aid in shaping the government policies related to health care system, so that they are able to bring a better change or improve the current health care system. American psychological associated has dedicated its 38th division for health psychology. This division is concerned about, gaining knowledge about psychological characteristics that influence health, greater comprehension of illness and health, promoting health policies and supporting health care system. This field surfaced during 1970s to undertake sudden modifications in healthcare. Currently, approximately 80 years is the life expectancy amongst US population, and the major reason behind mortality is chronic illnesses which are associated with lifestyle. This specialized field of psychology confronts these concerns in health.


Distinctive characteristics of Health Psychology:

Focused to support people to bring behavioral changes. As, this field can proceed with applied research to refrain from maladaptive behaviors like drinking and smoking and motivate them for healthy behaviors. People know that certain substances (like, sugar, etc.) in high level can cause health issues but they still pursue their habits. In such cases, to encourage them towards better options for their health, psychologists in this field can explore the psychological factors to modify their behaviors. The data trends about mortality and its reasons, show that around half of the deaths are connected with risk factors and behaviors that could be prevented in US, according to US Centres for Disease Control National Centre for Health Statistics. According to CDC report published in 2012, heart disease and stroke was at the top in the reasons of death, and it was followed by cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, poisoning due to drug overdose, and tragic falls between older people respectively.


Recent Concerns in Health Psychology:

Researches in this field are exploring and giving services for following:

  • Decreasing levels of stress
  • Increasing nutritious intake for well-being
  • Taking precautions to stay safe and illness-free
  • Managing weight Eliminating smoking
  • Decreasing risky behavior in sexual scenarios
  • Educating people about coping strategies
  • Providing grief counselling and hospice care
  • Comprehending the impact of illness
  • Enhancing recovery rate


Using Biosocial Model:

In Health Psychology this model suggests that health and illness are a combined result of three factors, which are as follows:

  • Biological factors - like, genetic components and personality traits that are inherited
  • Social factors - like, relationships amongst family members, cultural beliefs, and social support systems
  • Psychological factors - like, stress levels, lifestyle and personality traits developed


Practicing Health Psychology:

Now a days, more and more people are becoming aware about their health conditions and want to take charge of their health concerns. Health psychologists are teaching skills and behaviors to be followed by others to maintain their health. Health psychologists are also including other health practitioners (like, nurses, physicians, and nutritinisots, etc.) to provides better treatment by including approaches from psychology.



Through consultation by professionals in health psychology, you can seek support and gain resources to acquire your health goals. Thus, if you are witnessing any concerns related to health, you can look for health psychologist for treatment.

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Psychologs Magazine

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