PSY 352 Topic 8 Discussion Question 2:
The growth of health psychology has been significantly accelerated by various factors, including:
Health psychology is a relatively new field of study. It began in the 1960s when researchers found that the health care system was not as concerned with patients’ psychological state, such as feelings of depression, but rather with their physical state. Overall, over twenty years have passed since the first accredited program opened at Baylor University. There are currently only twenty-two schools in the United States granting master’s degrees and six universities offering doctoral degrees in health psychology (Mashariki 2005). The number of programs has been limited by skepticism. The key factor that has affected growth is a lack of funding to fund research and trained professionals in health psychology.
From increased awareness of the role health psychology can play in preventative and curative medicine, to the overlapping of its research interests with other psychological sub-fields, health psychology has become a rapidly burgeoning field of study. As the discipline continues to grow, what does it mean for those already involved in the field, and for those looking to enter it?
With an aging population and a growing scarcity of health professionals, the need for health psychologists is expected to continue to grow. By the year 2020, there will be a greater need for health psychologists because of increasing opportunities to work collaboratively with other health care providers to address the nation’s health needs.
Health psychology is an emerging field that provides health care providers with a foundation on how to take into account psychological factors (i.e., cognitions, emotions, and behaviors) to predict and promote health behaviors. While health psychology has gained credibility over the years, there are still some factors that should be considered carefully before implementing it as part of standard care. Some of these factors include cultural diversity, funding, provider resistance, and stigma associated with using mental health services.
Health psychology is the branch of psychology that focuses on why individuals become ill, and how they can avoid becoming ill. It focuses on physical illness as well as lessening the effects of chronic poor health. Over the past three decades, health psychology has become a popular area of study. This is partly due to changes in the health system caused by technology and government requirements, and to changes in the bigger society related to dieting.
Health psychology has become increasingly relevant as the health of the American public declines. The National Health Examination Survey of 1976 revealed that 98% of Americans were overweight or obese, while statistics from 2006 reported this number had grown to 64.5%. In addition, there have been increases in eating disorders and depression.