Working group members:
The WHO defines health as: ‘the state of complete physical, psychosocial and spiritual well-being, not simply the absence of illness.’ In theory and practice, Health Psychology (HP) consists of four levels of analysis focusing on individual lifestyle, social and community influences, living and working conditions, and general socio-economic, cultural and environmental conditions. HP is not concerned with the behaviour, cognition, emotional life and experience of the individual but it reflects that concepts about health and disease, psychological processes, behaviour, cognitions, volitions and emotions are embedded in culturally diverse ways. Close attention is paid to the interface of the individual with the health-care system and with society as a whole. Health, recovery and longevity are well approached with the biopsychosocial model that goes beyond a medical approach and also includes the environmental factors and the spiritual concerns of patients.
Evidence is accumulating on the possible role of behaviour, emotion, stress, psychological traits and other conditions on the onset, course and management of illness. The primary focus for HP is on interventions for disease prevention with reference to nutrition, smoking, alcohol, inactivity and stress. Other common topics of HP include studying personality as a predictor of health outcomes and facilitating the processes by which the well-being of an individual is maintained in the face of ongoing challenges.
The effective promotion of well-being and quality of life improvements is implemented into the real-life contexts. Health psychologists at many different levels of the health care system should carry out research, intervene, train and teach, promote health, design policies to improve services, advocate social justice etc. Cooperation of health psychologists in the ICP 2020 should take advantage of all experiences and outcomes from various levels of activities. This field still suffers from considerable structural constraints which influence health outcomes through social and economic determinants. It is imperative to reduce social and economic inequalities and promote people’s rights to health care and treatments. Let us strive for holistic care approach and improvement of services for individuals, families and communities via a higher quality of psychosocial care.