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The biopsychosocial model of health and illness is a framework developed by George L. Engel that states that interactions between biological, psychological, and social factors determine the cause, manifestation, and outcome of wellness and disease. Historically, popular theories like the nature versus nurture debate posited that any one of these factors was sufficient to change the course of development.

Health psychology a biopsychosocial approach

Biopsychosocial model of health and illness : This diagram shows how biological, psychological, and sociological factors overlap to determine overall health. Many disorders have an inherited genetic vulnerability. The greatest single risk factor for developing schizophrenia, for example is having a first-degree relative with the disease risk is 6. It is clear that genetics have an important role in the development of schizophrenia, but equally clear is that there must be other factors at play.

Certain non-biological i. The psychological component of the biopsychosocial model seeks to find a psychological foundation for a particular symptom or array of symptoms e. Individuals with a genetic vulnerability may be more likely to display negative thinking that puts them at risk for depression; alternatively, psychological factors may exacerbate a biological predisposition by putting a genetically vulnerable person at risk for other risk behaviors.

Health psychology a biopsychosocial approach

For example, depression on its own may not cause liver problems, but a person with depression may be more likely to abuse alcohol, and, therefore, develop liver damage. Increased risk-taking leads to an increased likelihood of disease. Social factors include socioeconomic status, culture, technology, and religion. Such life events may predispose an individual to developing depression, which may, in turn, contribute to physical health problems.

The impact of social factors is widely recognized in mental disorders like anorexia nervosa a disorder characterized by excessive and purposeful weight loss despite evidence of low body weight. The fashion industry and the media promote an unhealthy standard of beauty that emphasizes thinness over health. Also included in the social domain are cultural factors. For instance, differences in the circumstances, expectations, and belief systems of different cultural groups contribute to different prevalence rates and symptom expression of disorders.

For example, anorexia is less common in non-western cultures because they put less emphasis on thinness in women. Culture can vary across a small geographic range, such as from lower-income to higher-income areas, and rates of disease and illness differ across these communities accordingly.

Culture can even change biology, as research on epigenetics is beginning to show. For instance, research shows that individuals exposed to over-crowding and poverty are more at risk for developing depression with actual genetic mutations forming over only a single generation. The biopsychosocial model states that the workings of the body, mind, and environment all affect each other. According to this model, none of these factors in isolation is sufficient to lead definitively to health or illness—it is the deep interrelation of all three components that leads to a given outcome.

Health promotion must address all three factors, as a growing body of empirical literature suggests that it is the combination of health status, perceptions of health, and sociocultural barriers to accessing health care that influence the likelihood of a patient engaging in health-promoting behaviors, like taking medication, proper diet or nutrition, and engaging in physical activity. Skip to main content. Stress and Health Psychology.

Search for:. Introduction to Health Psychology Introducing Health Psychology Health psychology is the application of psychological theory and research to health, illness, and healthcare. Learning Objectives Define the focus and goals of the field of health psychology.

The biopsychosocial model views health and illness as the product of biological characteristics genes , behavioral factors lifestyle, stress, health beliefs , and social conditions cultural influences, family relationships, social support. Clinical health psychology CIHP refers to the application of scientific knowledge, derived from the field of health psychology, to clinical questions that may arise across the spectrum of healthcare.

Public health psychology PHP is population oriented, investigating potential causal links between psychosocial factors and health at the population level.

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Learn how to enable JavaScript on your browser. Connecting psychology and health through real-world examples, Health Psychology gives you the tools to make meaningful connections between the science of health psychology and your own experiences. Richard O.


After receiving his Ph. Since then, he has focused on research in health psychology, especially mind-body issues in stress, cardiovascular reactivity, and the effects of exercise on physical and psychological health. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors of the Southeast Michigan Consortium for Medical Education and lecturing regularly at area teaching hospitals, Straub has created an online learning management system for medical residency programs and authored a series of web-based modules for teaching core competencies in behavioral medicine.

Psychology in Everyday Life

With this text Straub combines his teaching vocation with a true passion for health psychology. See All Customer Reviews. Shop Textbooks. Add to Wishlist.

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