Handbook of Clinical Health Psychology: Volume 1, Medical Disorders and Behavioral Applications

Article excerpt

SUZANNE BENNETT JOHNSON, NATHAN W. PERRY, JR., and RONALD H. ROZENSKY (Volume Eds.) Handbook of Clinical Health Psychology: Volume 1, Medical Disorders and Behavioral Applications Washington DC: American Psychological Association, 2002, 654 pages. (ISBN 1-55798-909-5, US$69.95 Hardcover)

The goal of the three volume Handbook of Clinical Health Psychology, published by The American Psychological Association, is to describe in detail health psychology's contribution to scientific knowledge and improved health care delivery. The information to be covered makes this series of three handbooks the first comprehensive effort to characterize the field of health psychology. As noted in the series introduction, it does this by describing health psychology's scientific basis, delineating specific techniques and evaluation procedures, and by demonstrating applications of health psychology to the full range of medical diagnoses. This is extremely worthwhile, given how slowly physicians, the patient population, and third-party payers have been to recognize the positive impact that psychological interventions have on health care delivery. This handbook's publication is particularly timely, given the recent reduction of psychological services in many Canadian hospitals.

The first volume in this series is entitled: Medical Disorders and Behavioral Applications. Forthcoming titles in the series are: Volume 2: Disorders of Behavior and Health, and Volume 3: Models and Perspectives in Clinical Health Psychology. Volume 1 focuses on health psychology's contributions to the management of specific diseases and disorders. The volume is organized around the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9, 1998), a coding system used in the U.S. and commonly used worldwide. This volume is comprised of 17 chapters exactly paralleling the 17 categories into which the ICD-9 organizes diseases and disorders.

In each of these chapters, chapter authors, typically health psychologists with experience in one or more of the chapter's disorder, first briefly describe the diseases and disorders that fall within their specific ICD-9 disease category (e.g., Chapter 8, Diseases of the Respiratory System). Next, the authors provide some epidemiological data relevant to these diseases and disorders and highlight health psychology's contributions to these conditions. Finally, chapter authors conclude by commenting on areas in which health psychology may yet have made minimal impact and suggest opportunities for new research and applications. The volume does a good job in providing a systematic overview of all the ICD-9 disease categories, with the disease and disorder descriptions included in each chapter being particularly comprehensive.

However, adopting the ICD-9 organizational approach, as this volume does, has some drawbacks. The first being the ICD-9's rather rigid mind-body dualism, that may be contrary to the biopsychosocial model which underlies the health psychology approach. For example, the ICD-9 classification system deems that physical diseases seen as being in some way "psychogenic" in origin are to be classified under Mental Disorders whereas if they are seen as "organic" in origin they may be classified under their specific disease category and never the twain shall meet. …