Health psychology is an important field of psychology in which health psychologists apply the principles of psychology for the enhancement of a healthy lifestyle and treatment of disease. Its concerns include social conditions, biological factors, and even personality traits. It not only studies illness and enhancement of health yet it also promotes interventions to help people stay well or overcome their psychological disorders that are the cause of physical sickness. According to health psychology, human beings have complex systems, and that illness is caused by a multitude of factors and not by a single factor. Illness is caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors.

Roles of Health Psychologists

Health psychologists are experts in applying psychological knowledge, research, and interventions to promote and improve health and the health care system. They work with patients, caretakers of family, health community members, and health care professionals. They work in groups, with individuals, and with organizations. Health psychologists work in a wide range of areas relating to health, illness, and health care.

They use their knowledge of psychology to promote health, understand physical illness and wellbeing. An important task of health psychologists is to support patients with chronic illness. They support people to deal with psychological and emotional aspects of health.

health psychologists

1 ) Promote Healthier Lifestyle:

They promote healthier lifestyles and try to find ways to encourage people to improve their health. For example, they can help individuals to lose weight and stop smoking.

Health psychologists also use their skills to try to improve the healthcare system. For example, they advise doctors about better ways to communicate with their patients. They improve the effectiveness of the health care system.

2 ) Health Promotion and Behavior Change:

They promote health by applying evidence-based interventions for the primary prevention of illness or disease and wellness of humans.

3 ) Chronic Illness Management:

They help people to deal more effectively with illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Health psychologists help them to deal with normal emotional reactions to illness. They can enhance their quality of life. They also concern with individuals suffering from terminal illness to make their lives better when there is little hope of recovery, health psychologists can improve the quality of life by helping them to recover psychological well-being.

4 ) Research:

Health psychologists investigate how the disease affects an individual’s psychological well-being. Like other branches of psychology, health psychologists have advanced knowledge of research methods. They apply this knowledge to research a variety of areas.

5 ) Preventing Illness:

Psychologists promote health through behavioral change. They attempt to prevent illness by different measures. Health psychologists try to help people to lead a healthy life by developing and running programs that can help people to make changes in their lives such as stopping smoking, reducing alcohol intake, eating a healthy diet, and taking exercise daily.

6 ) Dietetics:

It is an increasingly important field as the role of diet in the development and management of certain chronic illness such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, become clear.

7 ) Physical Therapists:

They help patients regain the use of limbs and functions that may have been compromised by illness and its treatment.

8 ) Public Health:

Health psychologists analyze and try to improve the health care system and the formulation of health policy. They study the impact of health institutions and health professionals on people’s behavior and develop recommendations for improving health care.

9 ) Evaluate Health-Related Programs:

They may formally evaluate programs for improving health-related practices that have already been implemented through the media and communities. They may be responsible for administering health agencies, such as clinics and health and safety offices.

10 ) Corporate Sector:

An increasing number of health psychologists may also work in corporate work, where they advise employers and workers on a variety of health-related issues. They also help establish on-the-job interventions to help employees lose weight, quit smoking, and learn more adaptive ways of managing stress.

Besides, hospitals, health psychologists can work on the following sites also.

  • Medical Schools
  • Health maintenance organization
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Pain clinics
  • Private clinics and consultancy offices
health psychology

Models of Health Psychology

A common person’s lifestyle includes many behaviors that are risk factors for illness and injury. For example, smoking, alcohol, drugs, high fat or high cholesterol diets, eating too much, and becoming overweight too little physical activity are risk factors for health. Many people realize these dangers and adjust their behavior to protect their health. Health behavior is an activity people perform to maintain or improve their health. There are some health models to understand health behavior, illness, prevention, and people’s perception of the disease.

Biomedical Model

The concept of the biomedical model is that all illnesses can be imbalances or neurophysiological abnormalities. This model assumes that the psychological and social process is largely independent of the disease process. This model proposes that all diseases or physical disorders can be explained by disturbances in physiological processes, which result from injury, biochemical imbalance, bacterial or viral infection, and the like.

According to the biomedical model, the disease is an affliction of the body and is separate from the psychological and social process of the mind. This viewpoint became widely accepted during the 19th and the 20th century and still represents the dominant view in medicine.

The Biopsychosocial Model Of Health Psychology

The idea that mind and body together determine health and illness implies a model called the bio-psychosocial model. This model expands the biomedical view by adding to biological factor’s connections to psychological and social factors. This model proposes that all three factors affect and are affected by the person’s health.

Biological Factors:

This term includes the genetic materials and processes by which we inherit characteristics from our parents. It also includes the function and structure of the person’s physiology.

Psychological Factors:

Behavioral and mental processes are the focus of psychology and they involve cognition, emotion, and motivation. They compose the lifestyle and personality of individuals in health and illness.

Social Factors:

While living in a social world, we have relationships with different individuals and with groups. As we interact with people, we affect them and they affect us. On a broad level, our society affects the health of individuals by promoting certain values of our culture, such as that being fit and healthy is good.

The Health Belief Model Of Health Psychology

Psychologists are interested in the role of health beliefs in people’s practice of health behavior. A widely researched and accepted theory of why people do and do not practice these behaviors is called the health belief model proposed by Becker and Rosenstock in 1984.

According to the health belief model, a person’s likelihood of preventive action depends directly on two assumptions or the outcome of assumptions. In one assumption, the individual feels threatened regarding a health problem, and in the other assumption, the individual weighs the pros and cons of taking the action.

HBM is a commonsense theory proposing that people will take action to control illness-inducing conditions.

  1. If they regard themselves as susceptible to the condition.
  2. They believe the condition has serious personal consequences.
  3. If they believe a course faction available to them will reduce either susceptibility or the severity of the condition.
  4. They believe that the cost of taking the action is outweighed by the benefits of doing so.
  5. If environmental influences are encouraging change.

It the first health model subjected to extensive research. It has been supported that people are more likely to have regular dental checkups, practice safe sex, obtain health screenings, for cancers and engage in other health-protective behaviors if they feel susceptible to various health problems.

The Trans-Theoretical Model (TTM)

It is also called the stages of change model and describes behavior change during an illness. This model attempts to explain and predict adherence behavior. The Transtheoretical model was developed by James Prochaska and John Norcross. This model assumes that people progress through five spiraling stages in making changes in behavior. Readiness to change is the main focus of this model.

The Illness Belief Model Of Health Psychology

This model is based on problem-solving and suggests that we deal with illness and its symptoms in the same way as we deal with other problems. Given a problem, an individual will be motivated to solve the problem and reestablish his state of normality. In terms of health and illness, if healthiness is your normal state, then you will interpret illness as a problem, and you will be motivated to reestablish your state of health.



Health psychologists are very important for helping the patient from disease to health and fitness. They have proved their worth by working for rehabilitation and guidance of patients having a serious disease. According to APA, health psychologists not only counsel the patients but also work closely with their specific doctor.