Need of health psychology was there from the beginning. Since the establishment of psychology as an independent branch of study in the 20th century, psychologists have given inputs in inspecting why some people get ill and others do not, adjustment of people to their health conditions, and factors that lead people to exercise health behaviours.
A unit specially organised by the American Psychological Association (APA) to focus on the role of psychology in health, joined hands with independently working social psychologists, counselling psychologists, and clinical psychologists who were employed in healthcare settings. They together formed the Division of Health Psychology in 1978 within the American Psychological Association (APA), being the most important development in the field of psychology in the past 50 years.
Why we need health psychology?
There are four main reasons for need of health psychology–
- Change in Health Patterns
- Advancement in Technology and Research
- Expanded Health Care Services
- Increased Medical Acceptance
lets study these factors in detail-
1. Change in Health Patterns
Until the 20th century, acute diseases like tuberculosis, influenza, and measles were common. These Acute Disorders were short termed, which were results of a viral or bacterial invaders and uncomplicated to cure. These disorders are manageable now because of better public health standards like waste and sewage improvements.
Now Chronic Illnesses, diseases and disorders are increasing- like Heart disease, respiration disease, cancer, Accidents, Stroke, Alzheimer, Diabetes, Self harm, etc.
They develop slowly and people have to live with them for many years. Chronic illnesses have given rise to health psychology for the following two reasons:
These chronic diseases have may psychological and social causes. For instance, health habits like smoking, alcohol, substances use, unprotected sex, etc contribute to the development of heart disease, cancer, STD (Sexually Transmitted Diseases ), AIDS, etc.
2. Advancement in Technology and Research
Health Psychologists address issues created by new scientific advancements, technologies, treatments etc. Recent years researchers found out various gens which are contributed different cancers.
Advancements in technology and research help in the early diagnosis of chronic illnesses at the earlier stage or prediction of illnesses according to the genetic history of a person. These can have a prolonged effect on the quality of life and mental health of people.
How can we assist a college student whose mother just received a breast cancer diagnosis to accept her risk? How will her life be affected if she receives a positive result from a breast cancer gene test? Health psychologists help with these kinds of inquiries.
Health Psychologist can create ray of hope in patients will the help of Crisper 9 gene editing techniques. Cas 9 can edit particular gene which is causing particular cancer or disease.
Quality of life may be severely compromised by certain treatments that extend life. Patients are being asked more and more about their preferences for life-sustaining measures, and they may need counseling in these areas. These are only a couple of instances of how wellbeing clinicians answer logical turns of events.
3. Expanded Health Care Services
Health care is the largest service industry in the United States. Americans spend more than $2.3 trillion annually on health care (National Center for Health Statistics, 2011).
In India, Health care has been growing at a CAGR of 22% since 2016, employing 4.7 Million people directly. The sector has the potential to generate 2.7 million additional jobs in India between 2017-22, It reached to US$ 372 billion in 2022 (NITI Aayog, 2022).
The Healthcare industry is the largest service industry and is still expanding. However, there is still a disparity in the administration of healthcare facilities. There is an uneven distribution of facilities among all the economic classes.
Health psychology’s primary focus on prevention—specifically, changing people’s hazardous health behaviours before they become ill—can lower the amount of money spent on the management of sickness since controlling health care expenses is so crucial.
Health psychologists can contribute to the creation of a user-friendly healthcare system by understanding what makes individuals happy or unhappy with their medical care.
There are millions of individuals employed in the healthcare sector. Almost everyone in the nation interacts directly with the healthcare system by using its services. As a result, it has a huge influence.
4. Increased Medical Acceptance
Another reason for the development of health psychology is the increasing acceptance of health psychologists within the medical community.
To address health-related issues, health psychologists have created a range of short-term & Long term behavioural therapies like CBT, REBT, etc for managing pain, changing unhealthy habits like smoking, and controlling treatment side effects. Techniques that may only need a few hours to teach can have a long-term positive impact. Such measures, especially those that address risk factors like poor nutrition and smoking, have helped to reduce the prevalence of various illnesses, particularly coronary heart disease.
Ultimately, if a health-related discipline is to flourish, it must demonstrate a strong track record, not only as a research field but as a basis for interventions as well (Glasgow, 2008; King, Ahn, Atienza, & Kraemer, 2008). Health psychology is well on its way to fulfilling both tasks.
Ogden, J. (2017). Health psychology: A textbook (4th ed.).McGraw Hill Education.
Sarafino, Edward P and Smith, Timothy W (2012). Health Psychology – Bio psychosocial Interaction (7th ed). Wiley India Edition.
Taylor, Shelley E. (2018). Health Psychology (10th ed). McGraw Hill Higher Education. Indian Edition