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Health psychology is the study of psychological and behavioral processes in health, illness, and healthcare.It is concerned with understanding how psychological, behavioral, and cultural factors contribute to physical health and illness. Psychological factors can affect health directly. For example, chronically occurring environmental stressors affecting the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, cumulatively, can harm health. Behavioral factors can also affect a person's health. For example, certain behaviors can, over time, harm (smoking or consuming excessive amounts of alcohol) or enhance health (engaging in exercise). Health psychologists take a biopsychosocial approach. In other words, health psychologists understand health to be the product not only of biological processes (e.g., a virus, tumor, etc.) but also of psychological (e.g., thoughts and beliefs), behavioral (e.g., habits), and social processes (e.g., socioeconomic status and ethnicity).
By understanding psychological factors that influence health, and constructively applying that knowledge, health psychologists can improve health by working directly with individual patients or indirectly in large-scale public health programs. In addition, health psychologists can help train other healthcare professionals (e.g., physicians and nurses) to take advantage of the knowledge the discipline has generated, when treating patients. Health psychologists work in a variety of settings: alongside other medical professionals in hospitals and clinics, in public health departments working on large-scale behavior change and health promotion programs, and in universities and medical schools where they teach and conduct research.
Although its early beginnings can be traced to the field of clinical psychology,four different divisions within health psychology and one related field, occupational health psychology (OHP), have developed over time. The four divisions include clinical health psychology, public health psychology, community health psychology, and critical health psychology. Professional organizations for the field of health psychology include Division 38 of the American Psychological Association (APA), the Division of Health Psychology of the British Psychological Society (BPS), the European Health Psychology Society, and the College of Health Psychologists of the Australian Psychological Society (APS). Advanced credentialing in the US as a clinical health psychologist is provided through the American Board of Professional Psychology.
Recent advances in psychological, medical, and physiological research have led to a new way of thinking about health and illness. This conceptualization, which has been labeled the biopsychosocial model, views health and illness as the product of a combination of factors including biological characteristics (e.g., genetic predisposition), behavioral factors (e.g., lifestyle, stress, health beliefs), and social conditions (e.g., cultural influences, family relationships, social support).
Psychologists who strive to understand how biological, behavioral, and social factors influence health and illness are called health psychologists. Health psychologists use their knowledge of psychology and health to promote general well-being and understand physical illness.They are specially trained to help people deal with the psychological and emotional aspects of health and illness. Health psychologists work with many different health care professionals (e.g., physicians, dentists, nurses, physician's assistants, dietitians, social workers, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists, and chaplains) to conduct research and provide clinical assessments and treatment services. Many health psychologists focus on prevention research and interventions designed to promote healthier lifestyles and try to find ways to encourage people to improve their health. For example, they may help people to lose weight or stop smoking. Health psychologists also use their skills to try to improve the healthcare system. For example, they may advise doctors about better ways to communicate with their patients. Health psychologists work in many different settings including the UK's National Health Service (NHS), private practice, universities, communities, schools and organizations. While many health psychologists provide clinical services as part of their duties, others function in non-clinical roles, primarily involving teaching and research. Leading journals include Health Psychology , the Journal of Health Psychology , the British Journal of Health Psychology, and Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Health psychologists can work with people on a one-to-one basis, in groups, as a family, or at a larger population level.
Health psychology, like other areas of applied psychology, is both a theoretical and applied field. Health psychologists employ diverse research methods. These methods include controlled randomized experiments, quasi-experiments, longitudinal studies, time-series designs, cross-sectional studies, case-control studies, qualitative research as well as action research. Health psychologists study a broad range of health phenomena including cardiovascular disease, (cardiac psychology), smoking habits, the relation of religious beliefs to health, alcohol use, social support, living conditions, emotional state, social class, and more. Some health psychologists treat individuals with sleep problems, headaches, alcohol problems, etc. Other health psychologists work to empower community members by helping community members gain control over their health and improve quality of life of entire communities.
Health psychology developed in different forms in different societies.Psychological factors in health had been studied since the early 20th century by disciplines such as psychosomatic medicine and later behavioral medicine, but these were primarily branches of medicine, not psychology.
United States In 1969, William Schofield prepared a report for the APA entitled The Role of Psychology in the Delivery of Health Services.While there were exceptions, he found that the psychological research of the time frequently regarded mental health and physical health as separate, and devoted very little attention to psychology's impact upon physical health. One of the few psychologists working in this area at the time, Schofield proposed new forms of education and training for future psychologists. The APA, responding to his proposal, in 1973 established a task force to consider how psychologists could (a) help people to manage their health-related behaviors, (b) help patients manage their physical health problems, and (c) train healthcare staff to work more effectively with patients.
Health psychology began to emerge as a distinct discipline of psychology in the United States in the 1970s. In the mid-20th century there was a growing understanding in medicine of the effect of behavior on health. For example, the Alameda County Study, which began in the 1960s, showed that people who ate regular meals (e.g., breakfast), maintained a healthy weight, received adequate sleep, did not smoke, drank little alcohol, and exercised regularly were in better health and lived longer.In addition, psychologists and other scientists were discovering relationships between psychological processes and physiological ones. These discoveries include a better understanding of the impact of psychosocial stress on the cardiovascular and immune systems, and the early finding that the functioning of the immune system could be altered by learning.
Led by Joseph Matarazzo, in 1977, APA added a division devoted to health psychology. At the first divisional conference, Matarazzo delivered a speech that played an important role in defining health psychology. He defined the new field in this way, "Health psychology is the aggregate of the specific educational, scientific and professional contributions of the discipline of psychology to the promotion and maintenance of health, the prevention and treatment of illness, the identification of diagnostic and etiologic correlates of health, illness and related dysfunction, and the analysis and improvement of the healthcare system and health policy formation."In the 1980s, similar organizations were established elsewhere. In 1986, the BPS established a Division of Health Psychology. The European Health Psychology Society was also established in 1986. Similar organizations were established in other countries, including Australia and Japan. Universities began to develop doctoral level training programs in health psychology. In the US, post-doctoral level health psychology training programs were established for individuals who completed a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.
United Kingdom Psychologists have been working in medical settings for many years (in the UK sometimes the field was termed medical psychology). Medical psychology, however, was a relatively small field, primarily aimed at helping patients adjust to illness.The BPS's reconsideration of the role of the Medical Section prompted the emergence of health psychology as a distinct field. Marie Johnston and John Weinman argued in a letter to the BPS Bulletin that there was a great need for a Health Psychology Section. In December 1986 the section was established at the BPS London Conference, with Marie Johnston as chair. At the Annual BPS Conference in 1993 a review of "Current Trends in Health Psychology" was organized, and a definition of health psychology as "the study of psychological and behavioural processes in health, illness and healthcare" was proposed.
The Health Psychology Section became a Special Group in 1993 and was awarded divisional status within the UK in 1997. The awarding of divisional status meant that the individual training needs and professional practice of health psychologists were recognized, and members were able to obtain chartered status with the BPS. The BPS went on to regulate training and practice in health psychology until the regulation of professional standards and qualifications was taken over by statutory registration with the Health Professions Council in 2010.
A number of relevant trends coincided with the emergence of health psychology, including:
The emergence of academic /professional bodies to promote research and practice in health psychology was followed by the publication of a series of textbooks which began to lay out the interests of the discipline.
Health psychologists conduct research to identify behaviors and experiences that promote health, give rise to illness, and influence the effectiveness of health care. They also recommend ways to improve health care policy.Health psychologists have worked on developing ways to reduce smoking and improve daily nutrition in order to promote health and prevent illness. They have also studied the association between illness and individual characteristics. For example, health psychology has found a relation between the personality characteristics of thrill seeking, impulsiveness, hostility/anger, emotional instability, and depression, on one hand, and high-risk driving, on the other.
Health psychology is also concerned with contextual factors, including economic, cultural, community, social, and lifestyle factors that influence health. Physical addiction impedes smoking cessation. Some research suggests that seductive advertising also contributes to psychological dependency on tobacco,although other research has found no relationship between media exposure and smoking in youth. OHP research indicates that people in jobs that combine little decision latitude with a high psychological workload are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. Other research reveals a relation between unemployment and elevations in blood pressure. Epidemiologic research documents a relation between social class and cardiovascular disease.
Health psychologists also aim to change health behaviors for the dual purpose of helping people stay healthy and helping patients adhere to disease treatment regimens (also see health action process approach). Health psychologists employ cognitive behavioral therapy and applied behavior analysis (also see behavior modification) for that purpose.
Health psychologists promote health through behavioral change, as mentioned above; however, they attempt to prevent illness in other ways as well. Health psychologists try to help people to lead a healthy life by developing and running programmes which can help people to make changes in their lives such as stopping smoking, reducing the amount of alcohol they consume, eating more healthily, and exercising regularly.Campaigns informed by health psychology have targeted tobacco use. Those least able to afford tobacco products consume them most. Tobacco provides individuals with a way of controlling aversive emotional states accompanying daily experiences of stress that characterize the lives of deprived and vulnerable individuals. Practitioners emphasize education and effective communication as a part of illness prevention because many people do not recognize, or minimize, the risk of illness present in their lives. Moreover, many individuals are often unable to apply their knowledge of health practices owing to everyday pressures and stresses. A common example of population-based attempts to motivate the smoking public to reduce its dependence on cigarettes is anti-smoking campaigns.
Health psychologists help to promote health and well-being by preventing illness.Some illnesses can be more effectively treated if caught early. Health psychologists have worked to understand why some people do not seek early screenings or immunizations, and have used that knowledge to develop ways to encourage people to have early health checks for illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. Health psychologists are also finding ways to help people to avoid risky behaviors (e.g., engaging in unprotected sex) and encourage health-enhancing behaviors (e.g., regular tooth brushing or hand washing).
Health psychologists also aim at educating health professionals, including physicians and nurses, in communicating effectively with patients in ways that overcome barriers to understanding, remembering, and implementing effective strategies for reducing exposures to risk factors and making health-enhancing behavior changes.
There is also evidence from OHP that stress-reduction interventions at the workplace can be effective. For example, Kompier and his colleagueshave shown that a number of interventions aimed at reducing stress in bus drivers has had beneficial effects for employees and bus companies.
Health psychologists investigate how disease affects individuals' psychological well-being. An individual who becomes seriously ill or injured faces many different practical stressors. These stressors include problems meeting medical and other bills, problems obtaining proper care when home from the hospital, obstacles to caring for dependents, the experience of having one's sense of self-reliance compromised, gaining a new, unwanted identity as that of a sick person, and so on. These stressors can lead to depression, reduced self-esteem, etc.
Health psychology also concerns itself with bettering the lives of individuals with terminal illness. When there is little hope of recovery, health psychologist therapists can improve the quality of life of the patient by helping the patient recover at least some of his or her psychological well-being.Health psychologists are also concerned with providing therapeutic services for the bereaved.
Critical health psychologists explore how health policy can influence inequities, inequalities and social injustice.These avenues of research expand the scope of health psychology beyond the level of individual health to an examination of the social and economic determinants of health both within and between regions and nations. The individualism of mainstream health psychology has been critiqued and deconstructed by critical health psychologists using qualitative methods that zero in on the health experience.
Like psychologists in the other main psychology disciplines, health psychologists have advanced knowledge of research methods. Health psychologists apply this knowledge to conduct research on a variety of questions.For example, health psychologists carry out research to answer questions such as:
Health psychologists can also be responsible for training other health professionals on how to deliver interventions to help promote healthy eating, stopping smoking, weight loss, etc. Health psychologists also train other health professionals in communication skills such as how to break bad news or support behavior change for the purpose of improving adherence to treatment.
Health psychologists aid the process of communication between physicians and patients during medical consultations. There are many problems in this process, with patients showing a considerable lack of understanding of many medical terms, particularly anatomical terms (e.g., intestines).One area of research on this topic involves "doctor-centered" or "patient-centered" consultations. Doctor-centered consultations are generally directive, with the patient answering questions and playing less of a role in decision-making. Although this style is preferred by elderly people and others, many people dislike the sense of hierarchy or ignorance that it inspires. They prefer patient-centered consultations, which focus on the patient's needs, involve the doctor listening to the patient completely before making a decision, and involving the patient in the process of choosing treatment and finding a diagnosis.
Health psychologists engage in research and practice aimed at getting people to follow medical advice and adhere to their treatment regimens. Patients often forget to take their pills or consciously opt not to take their prescribed medications because of side effects. Failing to take prescribed medication is costly and wastes millions of usable medicines that could otherwise help other people. Estimated adherence rates are difficult to measure (see below); there is, however, evidence that adherence could be improved by tailoring treatment programs to individuals' daily lives.Additionally, traditional cognitive-behavioural therapies have been adapted for people suffering from chronic illnesses and comorbid psychological distress to include modules that encourage, support and reinforce adherence to medical advice as part of the larger treatment approach.
Health psychologists have identified a number of ways of measuring patients' adherence to medical regimens:
Health psychology attempts to find treatments to reduce or eliminate pain, as well as understand pain anomalies such as episodic analgesia, causalgia, neuralgia, and phantom limb pain. Although the task of measuring and describing pain has been problematic, the development of the McGill Pain Questionnairehas helped make progress in this area. Treatments for pain involve patient-administered analgesia, acupuncture (found to be effective in reducing pain for osteoarthritis of the knee ), biofeedback, and cognitive behavior therapy.
Below are some examples of the types of positions held by health psychologists within applied settings such as the UK's NHS and private practice.
In the UK, health psychologists are registered by the Health Professions Council (HPC) and have trained to a level to be eligible for full membership of the Division of Health Psychology within the BPS.Registered health psychologists who are chartered with the BPS will have undertaken a minimum of six years of training and will have specialized in health psychology for a minimum of three years. Health psychologists in training must have completed BPS stage 1 training and be registered with the BPS Stage 2 training route or with a BPS-accredited university doctoral health psychology program. Once qualified, health psychologists can work in a range of settings, for example the NHS, universities, schools, private healthcare, and research and charitable organizations. A health psychologist in training might be working within applied settings while working towards registration and chartered status. A health psychologist will have demonstrated competencies in all of the following areas:
All qualified health psychologists must also engage in and record their continuing professional development (CPD) for psychology each year throughout their career.
In Australia, health psychologists are registered by the Psychology Board of Australia.The standard pathway to becoming an endorsed health psychologists involves a minimum of six years training and a two-year registrar program. Health psychologists must also undertake continuing professional develop (CPD) each year.
Medical psychology is the application of psychological principles to the practice of medicine, and is clearly comprehensive rather than primarily drug-oriented, for both physical and mental disorders. The specialty of Medical Psychology and the National Alliance of Professional Psychology Providers (www.nappp.org) has been instrumental in advocacy and professional publications in increasing the awareness of Governmental Agencies, Scientific Societies, and the World Health Associations about the limited effect of "medication only approaches" to mental disorders and many related chronic physical disorders. A Medical Psychologist is a specialist who holds board certification in Medical Psychology from the American Board of Medical Psychology (www.amphome.org) and approved by the national psychology practitioner association in psychology(www.nappp.org). A specialist in Medical Psychology holds a doctoral degree in one of the clinical specialties in psychology, has done post doctoral graduate or approved didactic training in biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences and physical disease with behavioral and lifestyle components, and has completed a supervised residency providing advanced clinical diagnoses, prescribing or collaborating on medication and psychological treatment interventions in a comprehensive treatment plan, and they have passed one of the acceptable national written examinations, and supplied reviewed work product, and passed an Oral Examination. Medical psychologists are prepared to provide leadership and active roles in primary care and specialty healthcare facilities or consultation services essential for these facilities. A psychopharmacologist is very different from a Medical Psychologist, though one state uses confusing language in its laws.
Psychotherapy is the use of psychological methods, particularly when based on regular personal interaction with adults, to help a person change behavior and overcome problems in desired ways. Psychotherapy aims to improve an individual's well-being and mental health, to resolve or mitigate troublesome behaviors, beliefs, compulsions, thoughts, or emotions, and to improve relationships and social skills. There is also a range of psychotherapies designed for children and adolescents, which typically involve play, such as sandplay. Certain psychotherapies are considered evidence-based for treating some diagnosed mental disorders. Others have been criticized as pseudoscience.
A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in psychiatry, the branch of medicine devoted to the diagnosis, prevention, study, and treatment of mental disorders. Psychiatrists are medical doctors, unlike psychologists, and must evaluate patients to determine whether their symptoms are the result of a physical illness, a combination of physical and mental ailments, or strictly psychiatric. A psychiatrist usually works as the clinical leader of the multi-disciplinary team, which may comprise psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists and nursing staff. Psychiatrists have broad training in a bio-psycho-social approach to assessment and management of mental illness.
Occupational Therapists (OTs) are health care professionals who utilize evidence-based practice, research, scientific evidence, and a holistic perspective to promote independence, meaningful occupations, and patients' functional ability to fulfill their daily routines and roles. OTs ensure their patient-oriented interventions are effective. They have background training on the psychological, physical, emotional, and social makeup. OTs also have immense training in treating the whole body with the incorporation of neurological principles, anatomical or physiological concepts, and psychological perspectives. They support individuals across their lifespan to fulfill meaningful activities, known as occupations, individually by using therapeutic interventions.
A psychologist studies normal and abnormal mental states, perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by experimenting with, and observing, interpreting, and recording how individuals relate to one another and to their environments. Most psychologists need a license to practice psychology. Typically, psychologists need a doctoral degree in psychology, although a master's degree is sufficient in some situations. Licensing and regulations can vary by country and profession.
The biopsychosocial model is an interdisciplinary model that looks at the interconnection between biology, psychology, and socio-environmental factors. The model specifically examines how these aspects play a role in topics ranging from health and disease models to human development. This model was developed by George L. Engel in 1977 and is the first of its kind to employ this type of multifaceted thinking. The Biopsychosocial Model has received criticism about its limitations, but continues to carry influence in the fields of psychology, health, medicine, and human development.
Applied psychology is the use of psychological methods and findings of scientific psychology to solve practical problems of human and animal behavior and experience. Mental health, organizational psychology, business management, education, health, product design, ergonomics, and law are just a few of the areas that have been influenced by the application of psychological principles and findings. Some of the areas of applied psychology include clinical psychology, counseling psychology, evolutionary psychology, industrial and organizational psychology, legal psychology, neuropsychology, occupational health psychology, human factors, forensic psychology, engineering psychology, school psychology, sports psychology, traffic psychology, community psychology, and medical psychology. In addition, a number of specialized areas in the general field of psychology have applied branches. However, the lines between sub-branch specializations and major applied psychology categories are often blurred. For example, a human factors psychologist might use a cognitive psychology theory. This could be described as human factor psychology or as applied cognitive psychology.
Clinical psychology is an integration of science, theory, and clinical knowledge for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and relieving psychologically-based distress or dysfunction and to promote subjective well-being and personal development. Central to its practice are psychological assessment, clinical formulation, and psychotherapy, although clinical psychologists also engage in research, teaching, consultation, forensic testimony, and program development and administration. In many countries, clinical psychology is a regulated mental health profession.
Behavioral medicine is concerned with the integration of knowledge in the biological, behavioral, psychological, and social sciences relevant to health and illness. These sciences include epidemiology, anthropology, sociology, psychology, physiology, pharmacology, nutrition, neuroanatomy, endocrinology, and immunology. The term is often used interchangeably, but incorrectly, with health psychology.. The practice of behavioral medicine encompasses health psychology, but also includes applied psychophysiological therapies such as biofeedback, hypnosis, and bio-behavioral therapy of physical disorders, aspects of occupational therapy, rehabilitation medicine, and physiatry, as well as preventive medicine. In contrast, health psychology represents a stronger emphasis specifically on psychology's role in both behavioral medicine and behavioral health.
Psycho-oncology is an interdisciplinary field at the intersection of physical, psychological, social, and behavioral aspects of the cancer experience for both patients and caregivers. Also known as Psychiatric Oncology or Psychosocial Oncology, researchers and practitioners in the field are concerned with aspects of individuals' experience with cancer beyond medical treatment, and across the cancer trajectory, including at diagnosis, during treatment, transitioning to and throughout survivorship, and approaching the end-of-life. Founded by Jimmie Holland in 1977 via the incorporation of a psychiatric service within the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the field has expanded drastically since and is now universally recognized as an integral component of quality cancer care. Cancer centers in major academic medical centers across the country now uniformly incorporate a psycho-oncology service into their clinical care, and provide infrastructure to support research efforts to advance knowledge in the field.
A mental health professional is a health care practitioner or social and human services provider who offers services for the purpose of improving an individual's mental health or to treat mental disorders. This broad category was developed as a name for community personnel who worked in the new community mental health agencies begun in the 1970s to assist individuals moving from state hospitals, to prevent admissions, and to provide support in homes, jobs, education, and community. These individuals were the forefront brigade to develop the community programs, which today may be referred to by names such as supported housing, psychiatric rehabilitation, supported or transitional employment, sheltered workshops, supported education, daily living skills, affirmative industries, dual diagnosis treatment, individual and family psychoeducation, adult day care, foster care, family services and mental health counseling.
Susan Michie is professor of health psychology at University College London, United Kingdom.
Occupational health psychology (OHP) is an interdisciplinary area of psychology that is concerned with the health and safety of workers. OHP addresses a number of major topic areas including the impact of occupational stressors on physical and mental health, the impact of involuntary unemployment on physical and mental health, work-family balance, workplace violence and other forms of mistreatment, accidents and safety, and interventions designed to improve/protect worker health. Although OHP emerged from two distinct disciplines within applied psychology, namely, health psychology and industrial and organizational psychology, for a long time the psychology establishment, including leaders of industrial/organizational psychology, rarely dealt with occupational stress and employee health, creating a need for the emergence of OHP. But OHP has also been informed by other disciplines, including occupational medicine, industrial sociology, industrial engineering, and economics, as well as preventive medicine and public health. OHP is concerned with the relationship of psychosocial workplace factors to the development, maintenance, and promotion of workers' health and that of their families. Thus the field's focus is work-related factors that can lead to injury, disease, and distress.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), occupational burnout is a syndrome resulting from chronic work-related stress, with symptoms characterized by "feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and reduced professional efficacy." While burnout influences health and may be a reason for people contacting health services, it is not itself classified by the WHO as a medical condition.
Occupational stress is psychological stress related to one's job. Occupational stress often stems from pressures that do not align with a person's knowledge, skills, or expectations. Job stress can increase when workers do not feel supported by supervisors or colleagues, feel as if they have little control over work processes, or find that their efforts on the job are incomensurate with the job's rewards. Occupational stress is a concern for both employees and employers due to the link between stressful job conditions and employee emotional well-being, physical health, and job performance.
Psychology encompasses a vast domain, and includes many different approaches to the study of mental processes and behavior. Below are the major areas of inquiry that taken together constitute psychology. A comprehensive list of the sub-fields and areas within psychology can be found at the list of psychology topics and list of psychology disciplines.
Cardiac psychology is a specialization of health psychology that focuses on the primary and secondary prevention of heart disease by incorporating strategies to address the emotional and behavioral barriers to lifestyle changes, and that seeks to enhance recovery in cardiac patients by means of providing patients tools to cope with life and physical changes associated with their disease. Cardiac psychologists can help cardiac patients across the lifespan: prevention, pre-surgery, post-surgery, and rehabilitation of cardiac disease with a particular emphasis on achieving optimal quality of life outcomes. Cardiac psychology includes both research and clinical practice aspects.
Primary Care Behavioral Health Consultation model (PCBH) is a psychological approach to population-based clinical health care that is simultaneously co-located, collaborative, and integrated within the primary care clinic. The goal of PCBH is to improve and promote overall health within the general population. This approach is important because approximately half of all patients in primary care present with psychiatric comorbidities, and 60% of psychiatric illness is treated in primary care. Primary Care practice has traditionally adopted a generalist approach whereby physicians are trained in the medical model and solutions to problems typically involve medications, procedures, and advice. Appointment times are short, with the goal of seeing a large number of patients in a day. Many patients present with mental health care needs whose symptomology may overlap with medical disorders and which may exacerbate, complicate, or masquerade as physical symptoms. In addition, many medical problems present with associated psychological sequelae, that are amenable to change, through behavioral intervention, that can improve outcomes for these health problems. Over 50% of medical visits to primary care clinics today are related to chronic medical conditions. As we learn more and more about the contributing factors to the development and maintenance of these medical problems, there is growing evidence that the PCBH model affords us the opportunity for early identification and behavioral/medical intervention that can prevent some acute problems from becoming chronic health care problems. Behavioral Health Consultants (BHCs) work side-by-side with all members of the clinical care team to enhance preventive and clinical care for mental health problems that have traditionally been treated solely by physicians. The role of the BHC is to facilitate systemic change within primary care that facilitates a multidisciplinary approach both from a treatment and reimbursement standpoint. BHCs typically collaborate with physicians to develop treatment plans, monitor patient progress, and flexibly provide care to meet patients’ changing needs In this review the terms Primary Care Behavioral Health Consultation and Behavioral Health Consultation will be used interchangeably.
Pediatric psychology is a multidisciplinary field of both scientific research and clinical practice which attempts to address the psychological aspects of illness, injury, and the promotion of health behaviors in children, adolescents, and families in a pediatric health setting. Psychological issues are addressed in a developmental framework and emphasize the dynamic relationships which exist between children, their families, and the health delivery system as a whole.
Rehabilitation Psychology is a specialty area of psychology aimed at maximizing the independence, functional status, health, and social participation of individuals with disabilities and chronic health conditions. Assessment and treatment may include the following areas: psychosocial, cognitive, behavioral, and functional status, self-esteem, coping skills, and quality of life. As the conditions experienced by patients vary widely, rehabilitation psychologists offer individualized treatment approaches. The discipline takes a holistic approach, considering individuals within their broader social context and assessing environmental and demographic factors that may enhance or impede progress.