Dr, Horst H. Mueller

What is Health Psychology?
Health psychology focuses upon how biological, psychological, and social factors affect health and illness. It is a fairly new field because society has become more conscious of being healthy -- whether it pertains to the food we eat, the way our bodies look, or how we feel. Because of this, psychologists developed health psychology. Many health psychologists perform on the best ways to promote healthy living and prevent disease and/or how people react psychologically when they are diagnosed with an illness. Health psychologists are also interested in patients' personality or attitude to see if it has a positive or negative effect on their health.

Health Psychology has become so involved in physical health and illness that many medical centers now employ psychologists and primary care physicians are increasingly referring their patients to psychologists as part of a more comprehensive approach to primary health care.

Health psychologists study patients' coping strategies, adjustment to their illness, and how they view their quality of life. The main focus today is why people do certain things knowing that it can harm them in the end (e.g., why teenagers or adults smoke when they know it causes cancer or even death).

Health psychologists have found that not only behavior has an impact on disease, but also attitudes and social factors. These factors combined to form the biopsychosocial model which guides the work of many health psychologists today.

There are five major aspects to health psychology, in which each contribute to the overall existence of health psychology. Health psychology contributes to our understanding of health and illness through patients' adjustment to serious illnesses, their health beliefs, which influences their behavior, their mind and body connection, and finally the psychosocial factors that can reinforce healthy behaviors and prevent negative ones.