Psychology, as the science of behavior, has a lot to offer in terms of improving health promotion and disease prevention, as well as addressing health disparities. Based on scientific evidence, this health briefing series focuses on a wide range of health conditions to highlight role of psychology in health care
and other health care settings, including and beyond assessment and treatment.
Psychology is a broad discipline that includes many subfields of study, such as clinical and social behavior, human development, health, sports, cognitive processes, and so on. Psychologists investigate people’s emotions, cognition, and behaviors by observing, interpreting, and documenting their reactions. The goal of psychologists is to understand their clients’ thought processes and to articulate their emotions and behaviors. The work of a psychologist is both demanding and rewarding. Psychologists work in a variety of settings; some work independently, others choose to work for a company, and many collaborate with other healthcare
professionals to promote overall wellness.
This health briefing series was created in collaboration with the APA’s Interdivisional Healthcare Committee, a coalition of the association’s health-related divisions.
Role of psychology in health care
Our evolving health care system can address the physical, psychological, and social aspects of health by relying on integrated, interprofessional health care teams that include psychologists.
Primary Care Psychologists provide critical mental and behavioral health services in primary care; they identify and modify behaviors to promote individuals’ health and wellness throughout their lives.
The most effective way to distinguish dementia from normal age-related cognitive
changes and those associated with depression and/or other mental disorders is through cognitive testing and neuropsychological evaluation by psychologists with specialized training and expertise.
Pediatric Cancer Psychologists are capable of identifying adjustment difficulties, providing effective psychological interventions for depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress symptoms, and promoting effective problem-solving for child cancer patients and their families during treatment and after they have completed treatment.
Adult Cancer Psychologists are the foremost researchers in the development of evidence-based psychological treatments for cancer patients, with specialized training in assessing, monitoring, and treating residual neurocognitive impairments.
Breast Cancer Psychologists can assess psychosocial distress and body image concerns using diagnostic measures and interviewing techniques.
Cancer of the Colon
Psychological interventions (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation training, group therapy) can reduce psychological distress and improve colorectal cancer patients’ self-esteem, optimism, social functioning, and self-efficacy.
Many of the benefits of psychotherapy for reducing risk factors for heart disease are well established.
Transplantation of the Liver
When a psychologist is involved in both pre-transplant assessment and care as well as post-transplant care, he or she can help improve outcomes.
Childhood and adolescent obesity psychologists play an important role in assessing obese youth in areas such as increasing physical activity, increasing child and parent motivation and ability to implement lifestyle behavior changes, and improving social and emotional
Psychologists have the knowledge and training to help with the prevention of weight problems, adherence to weight-loss programs, and maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle, all of which are critical in addressing the current obesity epidemic.
Role of Psychology in Chronic Pain Management
Cognitive behavioral and self-regulation therapies, for example, have been shown to be safe, effective, and cost-effective pain treatments
Depression During Pregnancy
Recent guidelines advocate for psychotherapeutic intervention rather than pharmacological treatment of depression in pregnant and lactating women.
Ulcers Caused by Pressure
A psychologist on a health care team can implement behavioral interventions for patients at risk of pressure ulcers, preventing them from having to stay in the hospital for longer and more expensive stays.
Preoperative Psychological Exams for Spinal Conditions
In the case of spinal pain, a psychological assessment performed by a psychologist as part of a health care team can predict surgical outcomes.
Role of Psychology in Sleep Disorders in Children
A psychologist on a healthcare team can assess pediatric behavioral sleep disorders and co-occurring cognitive disorders, as well as implement interventions to treat these conditions.
Roles in Psychologist in Healthcare Facilities
Psychologists can delve deeply into patients’ psychology and help them recover. They also work to prevent and treat diseases, promote holistic well-being, identify areas for organizational improvement, and improve the functioning of the healthcare system. The contribution of psychologists helps healthcare facility centers provide better healthcare services. The following is an in-depth look at the role of psychologists in a healthcare facility:
Health psychologists conduct research and delve deeply into patients’ psychology to develop disease-management techniques. Sometimes patients suffer from incurable diseases that can only be treated. These patients must make some adjustments, and health psychologists assist them in dealing with and accepting the new reality of their lives.
Psychologists work to improve the health of the environment. They work hard to educate people about how changing one’s lifestyle can help prevent illness. Numerous practices can help people strengthen their immune systems and fight germs, viruses, and bacteria. They also educate people about the consequences of diseases and encourage them to adopt healthy habits.
Encourage health and wellness.
Health psychologists in hospitals promote overall well-being. They emphasize that overall wellness entails being in good physical, mental, emotional
, and social health. Health psychologists educate people about the interdependence of physical, social, psychological, and emotional health. When one suffers from one, it affects the others. They promote the behaviors of exercising, eating a healthy diet, and caring for one’s mental health. After a certain age, health psychologists raise awareness about the importance of oral hygiene, cleanliness, self-assessment, and regular medical scans.
Determine health-harming behaviors.
While genetic and contagious diseases are common, health psychologists
understand that a variety of physiological and behavioral factors influence overall health. They investigate and identify potentially harmful behaviors. Smoking, lack of rest and sleep, drug addiction, abuse, and eating unhealthy foods can all be detrimental to one’s health. These habits may not have an immediate negative impact on people, but they are harmful to their health in the long run. Health psychologists investigate other life patterns that can lead to illness.
Investigate the effects of patient-doctor communication.
Health psychologists understand psychology and the importance of effective communication. They investigate the nature and effects of communication between healthcare professionals and patients in healthcare originations. They intervene and improve it to ensure that patients receive the best possible care and recover as quickly as possible.
Psychological effects No two patients with the same disease have the same reaction. While some may accept their circumstances, others may refuse to accept the new reality. Psychologists work with patients to examine the psychological impact of illness on patients and their families.