Health Psychology

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HEALTH PSYCHOLOGY

Health psychology is defined as the application of psychology to the relevant areas of health, disease and the health care system. Medicine and health psychology have many common themes and interests but they differ in their approaches. The primary focus of medicine is the diagnosis, treatment and cure of illness. The focus of health psychology goes beyond that of medicine to stress the prevention and enhancement of health. It expands the biological framework of medicine to also include psychological and social factors.

The scope of health psychology is very broad because many theories and methods of psychology can be applied to health-related issues. Maes & van Elderen (1998) (cited in Gross, 2009) defines health psychology as “…a sub-discipline of psychology which addresses the relationship between psychological processes and behaviour on the one hand and health and illness on the other...”.

Health psychology aims to understand, explain, develop and test theories by evaluating the role of psychology and its perspectives as factors affecting illness, predicting unhealthy behaviours and understanding and evaluating the role of psychology in the experience and treatment of illness. It also aims to put theory into practice by promoting healthy behaviour, preventing illness and thereby improving the health care system and health policy. For example, from programmes developed to help people reduce risk factors to their health, such as obesity and smoking, to understanding how people respond to the onset of illness, how they deal with their illness, how they cope with pain and how they respond to treatments.

Therefore, health psychology is an important discipline that has a great deal to offer to the health care system, demonstrating that psychological principals can be successful in providing positive health effects in patients than…...

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