Teaching Resources for Health Psychologists
COURSE DESCRIPTIONSIn general, health psychology courses examine how biological, psychological, and social factors interact with and affect:
- The efforts people make in promoting good health and preventing illness;
- The treatment people receive for medical problems;
- How effectively people cope with and reduce stress and pain, and;
- The recovery, rehabilitation, and psychosocial adjustment of patients with serious health problems.
TYPICAL COURSE CONTENTThree broad topics receive particularly strong emphasis in health psychology courses. These topics are:
- Factors underlying health habits and lifestyles;
- Methods to enhance health behavior and prevent illness, and;
- Stress and stress management.
- Stress and illness
- Coping and social support
- Compliance/adherence with medical regimens
- Cardiovascular disease and cancer
- Health disparities and social determinants of health
- Nutrition, obesity, and weight control
- Tobacco and alcohol use
- Medical settings and the relationships between patients and practitioners
- Chronic and terminal illness
THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVESThe great majority of instructors incorporate a variety of theoretical perspectives in their health psychology courses (Sarafino, 1988). Instructors tend to give the greatest emphasis to the behavioral perspective, followed by (in rank order): biological/physiological, cognitive, social, developmental, and psychodynamic perspectives.
COURSE OBJECTIVESThe list presented below represents some of the educational objectives for courses in health psychology. Students completing a comprehensive course in health psychology are expected to achieve most or all of the following objectives:
- Develop an understanding and appreciation of the complex interplay between one’s physical well-being and a variety of biological, psychological, social, and cultural factors.
- Learn how psychological research methods, theories, and principles can be applied to enhance biomedical approaches for promoting health and treating illness.
- Learn the nature of the stress response and its impact in the etiology and course of many health problems.
- Discover how behavioral and cognitive methods can help individuals cope with stress.
- Develop skills for designing programs to improve one’s own and others’ personal health habits and lifestyles.
- Acquire an understanding of the difficulty patients experience in deciding whether or when to seek treatment for disturbing symptoms.
- Become aware of the experiences of patients in the hospital setting, factors that affect adherence to medical regimens, and sources of problems in patient/practitioner relationships.
- Determine how psychological and medical methods for relieving pain differ and are often combined to enhance treatment effectiveness.
- Become aware of the impact that disabling or life-threatening illnesses have on patients and their families.
- Discover how psychological methods and principles can be applied to help patients manage and cope with chronic illness.
- Click here to read results from a national survey to examine how undergraduate health psychology is taught. This survey was conducted in 2016 in the United States by former members of the SfHP’s Education & Training Council.
- Click here for Health Psychology & COVID-19 resources created, compiled, and shared by Professor David Sherman of UC Santa Barbara.
- Click here to access the Diversity Syllabus, a living repository of books and peer-reviewed scholarly articles that may serve as a starting point in increasing awareness, knowledge, and skills in integrating diversity within psychological science. The Diversity Syllabus was created, shared, and maintained by the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology’s Diversity Committee.
- Click hereto access additional teaching resources from the Office of Teaching Resources in Psychology.
Clinical Health Psychology Taxonomy for Education and Training
Provide a consistent set of terms and definitions related to education and training in health service psychology specialties recognized by the American Psychological Association.