The Emergence of Health Psychologyby Shaheen E Lakhan, MD, PhD, MEd, MS, FAAN | March 12, 2006
Psychology as a profession has rapidly changed since a half-century ago. Psychologists and other medical professionals are increasingly adopting the biopsychosocial model that states biological, psychological, and social processes are inherently, integrally, and interactively involved in physical health and illness. In 1976, the APA developed a Health Psychology division to serve as a professional organization and promoting association for new branch of psychology. As new breed of psychologists, health psychologists were charged to conduct basic and applied research attempting to uncover how psychosocial factors influence the etiology and progression of disease. Health psychologists have since demonstrated the positive therapeutic benefits of employing behavioral and stress coping strategies, patient and family health education, and co-managed care for medical conditions.
The following outlines basic health psychology modalities and topics.
What type of individuals fail to to take important preventive measures, and why?
How can personality, socioeconomics, and culture affect one’s health?
Preventive Services – Stress management, relaxation therapy, health education, and biofeedback.
Interprofessional Collaboration – Co-manage medical conditions with physicians, and integrate with psychologists, occupational therapists, and rehabilitation specialists. Consult on behavioral and pharmacological interventions.
Health Promotion – Develop effective campaigns that foster healthy behaviors (e.g. exercise, wearing a seatbelt, immunizations, screenings).
Health Protection – Consult on program and policy development, for instance, extended leave programs for the care of ill family, lift recreation barriers for the disabled, and redesign primary medicine to incorporate behavioral triage.
Courses & Workshops – Instruct tertiary students on basic psychology and other medical professionals on the holistic view of the biopsychosocial model and its practical implications in medicine.
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