Health Psychology

As psychology is the science of behaviour, Health Psychology is focused on behaviour related to health and illness, including individuals who confront chronic physical illness and psychosocial difficulties. Research in health psychology is dedicated in understanding the processes of health behaviour change and in understanding how this change can be better promoted and maintained.

The scientific research in the field is also focused on the identification and understanding of health-risk factors and health protective behaviours as well as on the investigation of the psychological impact of acute and chronic diseases on individuals. Research interventions often have the form of psychoeducation (seminars with research-based information about a health condition) and/or target at teaching patients of acute and chronic illness self-management and coping techniques, and examine the effects of the intervention at participants’ health, health behaviour and quality of life.


Chronic pain and pain intensity significantly influences the quality of life of patients with ALS and clinical attention to depressive symptomatology is highly recommended.It has been suggested that the influence of pain on patients’ quality of life remains only at the presence of depressive symptomatology.

For example, the findings of a pilot study suggest that the worsening of the Quality of Life (QOL) of patients with intense pain occurs only in the presence of depressive symptomatology and also that depression directly deteriorates the QOL of patients with ALS; an effect irrespective of pain intensity (Pizzimenti, Aragona, Onesti, & Inghilleri, 2013).

Read more about key scientific findings on ALS

Adipose tissue (body fat) has been consistently related to increased production of the pro-inflammatory cytokines (interleukin) in OA (Nelson, 2012) and balanced diet has been associated with reduced inflammation in RA (Kjeldsen-Kragh & Haugen, 1991) and pain.

A diet – longitudinal intervention with 34 participants with RA, followed for a year and being in fasting and vegetarian diet, found significantly related improvements in a wide range of measures compared to the control group; the group of patients that did not participated into the intervention.

Read about key scientific findings on arthritis

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Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic illness characterised by sudden changes of symptoms and relapses; an unpredictability that triggers anxiety and depressive symptomatology and often elicit chronic sorrow and grief to patients.

Up to 50% of patients with MS are affected by depression and anxiety (Landro, Celius, & Sletvoid, 2004), whereas lifetime prevalence is estimated to be approximately 24% and 21.9% (Marrie et al., 2015), accordingly.

Unfortunately, it is estimated that depression is under-diagnosed in around 23%-30% of patients (Horwitz, Cutter, Tyry, Campagnolo, & Vollmer, 2009; McGuigan & Hutchinson, 2006).

Read more about scientific findings on MS