Health Psychology is both an applied and an academic branch of psychology that applies psychological principles and practices to physical health and illness.
Health psychologists adopt a biopsychosocial approach to physical health and illness. They achieve this by taking into consideration biological factors such as immune responses, psychological factors such as emotions and cognitions, and social factors such as supportive friends and family.
All of these factors are believed to influence health and illness, and as such the biopsychosocial approach can be considered to be a holistic approach to health and illness.
Matarazzo (1980, p118) defines health psychology as:“An aggregate of the educational, scientific, and professional contributions of the discipline of psychology to the promotion and maintenance of health, illness and related dysfunction and the improvement of the healthcare system and health policy formation”
Therefore the main goals of health psychology have been described by the British Psychological Society’s Division of Health Psychology (2012) as
The promotion and maintenance of health
Improving health-care systems and health policy
The prevention and treatment of illness
Understanding the causes of illness
What is Health Psychology?
BPS Division of Health Psychology has more information on Health Psychology in the UK.