Handbook of Health Psychology

By Andrew Baum; Tracey A. Revenson et al. | Go to book overview

MMWR 2000). Psychological interventions such as support groups and information hotlines have minimized the incidence of mental health problems as a consequence of illness (Stanton et al., chap. 21; Wills & Filer, chap. 12).

Most behavioral interventions focus on the individual as the target of change (or on aggregates of individuals). In contrast, Stokols (1992), among others, urges us “to provide environmental resources and interventions that promote enhanced well-being among occupants of an area” (1992, pp. 6–7). We are only beginning to understand the effects of living in neighborhoods that lack basic environmental resources- neighborhoods with extreme poverty, high crime rates, inadequate housing, public transportation or schools-on health and well-being (Fullilove, 1999). The case study detailed by Butterfoss et al. (chap. 37) in this handbook provides a blueprint for how researchers and health educators allied with community coalitions can improve community health outcomes. Altman and Goodman (chap. 36) describe a broader range of community-wide or policy strategies that can lead to community-wide change in health behaviors, such as changing the community's social norms regarding health behaviors such as smoking, nutrition or exercise (see also Revenson & Schiaffmo, 2000). They stress the importance of including community members in health-promoting programs from their inception, and devising culturally-sensitive health promotion strategies in order for health interventions to be incorporated by the community once researchers have moved on. Clearly, “translating” our knowledge of biobehavioral mechanisms in health and illness to more widespread efforts will be a challenge for the next decade of community psychology.


CONCLUSION

The exponential growth in brain and behavioral sciences over the past decade is mirrored in the field of health psychology. But rapid growth also begets growing pains. Health psychologists have taken stock, many times, to assess our progress and our pitfalls (Coyne, 1997; Landrine & Klonoff, 1992; Taylor, 1984; 1987; 1990). As recently as March, 2000, when APA's division of Health Psychology sponsored a conference on the future of health psychology, a unified definition or vision for the field still did not exist. Despite this-or perhaps as a result of it-health psychologists have managed to make great progress in our understanding of the cognitive, behavioral, cognitive-behavioral, physiological, social, environmental, social environmental, personality, and developmental factors underlying health and illness processes over the past quarter- century. But there are many miles to go before we sleep.


REFERENCES

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