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Health Psychology: A Biopsychosocial Approach, Fourth Edition


Author: Richard O. Straub

Publisher: Worth Publishers


Publish Date: February 7, 2014

ISBN-10: 1464109370

Pages: 705

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

Your cancer is advanced. Inoperable. Try for whatever quality of life you can maintain. You have 11 weeks to live.” Irv Kingston refused to believe this prognosis and instead mobilized every psychological, social, and environmental resource that he could think of to battle his illness. With his positive, upbeat attitude, he insisted on undergoing a grueling (and useless, according to his doctor) regimen of cancer treatment. And his bravery worked: 12 months later, he received a clean bill of health and resumed his normal life.

Of course, some diseases take their toll, no matter what biological, psychological, or social defenses we offer. However, study after study has shown that attitude and environment matter—that good health is more than a physiological state. Just 30 years ago, health and psychology were separate disciplines, each aware of the other but unable to connect in any meaningful way. Then, in 1978, the field of health psychology was born, and it has grown explosively since then. From the earliest research linking Type A behavior to increased risk for cardiovascular disease, to the most current discoveries regarding psychosocial influences on the inflammatory processes involved in cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases, health psychology already has accomplished much.

More important than individual research findings has been the ongoing refinement of the biopsychosocial (mind–body) model as an interdisciplinary template for the study of health issues (the importance of which is reflected in the new subtitle of this text). Increasingly, researchers are able to pinpoint the physiological mechanisms by which anger, loneliness, and other psychosocial factors adversely affect health, and by which optimism, social connectedness, and a strong sense of self-empowerment exert their beneficial effects.

Experiencing these exciting and productive early years of health psychology inspired me to write this text—to share with aspiring students this vitally important field. My goals in this text have been to present current, relevant, well-supported summaries of the main ideas of the field, and to model a scientific way of thinking about those ideas in the process. Understanding human behavior and teaching students are my two professional passions, and nowhere have these passions come together more directly for me than in writing this text about how psychology and health are interconnected.

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