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As psychology is the science of behaviour, Health Psychology is focused on behaviour related to health and illness, and with the aim to take into account the biological, psychological and social factors that affect the health of an individual.
In parallel, Psychology of Health aims at “the promotion maintenance of health, the prevention and treatment of illness, the identification of etiologic and diagnostic correlates of health, illness, and related dysfunction, and to the analysis and improvement of the health care system and health policy formation.” (Mattarazzo, 1982, pp.4).
In practice health psychology has four main directions. The clinical health psychology, which involves more work in the health care settings, the public health psychology, which is more focused on the systematic promotion of health education, the community health psychology which is focused on the education of general population in the smaller community and the critical health psychology, which is more focused on the research of the influence of economics and power distribution on health (Marks, 2002).
Gradually, it has been recognized that illness is related to behaviour (Brannon & Feist, 2010). In the western countries of the 20th century, the increase of the national income and of the income per head has been directly related to the decrease in mortality rates and the increase in life expectancy (Preston, 1975). The economic growth included the drastic impact of clean water infrastructure on the decrease of communicable diseases (Cutler & Miller, 2004), and from the period of 1970 - 1980 increasingly more clinical research have focused on the prevalence of behaviourally preventable diseases such as the cardiovascular disease, which have now reached dimensions of epidemic.
“According to the World Health Organization, health is not defined as the absence of a disease and it includes the psychological and the social well-being.”
“Health psychology views illness as a state at a continuum, which can be behaviourally influenced. Neither sickness circumscribes well-being, nor does health.”
George Engel developed the biopsychosocial model in an effort to address the whole range of factors that may be involved for better diagnosis, involved in patient’s response and involved in the treatment of the illness in time (Armstrong, 2002). It is a framework based on the systems theory, according to which everything is part of its environment of which levels of organization are hierarchically related and affect each other (Engel, 1982).
It is now recognised that collecting and considering information for the psychological and social stance of the individual offers opportunities for tailor-made treatments that address potential barriers for effective treatment or other health-related problems, which the classic biomedical interview could miss (Engel, 1982; Schwartz, 1982).
What is Psychoeducation?
Psychoeducation is a seminar-based education that provides necessary information about symptoms, illness, treatment and therapy. The aim of psychoeducation is to provide information to support a better understanding of a condition, empower informed decisions and better coping with an illness.
Meta-analytic research evidence suggests that Psychoeducational interventions significantly contribute to a range of
health behaviours as well as important health outcomes, better management, reduction in relapse rates (Lincoln, Wilhelm, & Nestoriuk, 2007) and improvement in patients’ overall quality of life (Atkinson, Coia, Gilmour, & Bauml et al., 2006; Browne, Roe, Lane, & O'Callaghan, 1996; Harper, 1996;Herz et al., 2000).