Handbook of Health Psychology

Handbook of Health Psychology

Handbook of Health Psychology

Handbook of Health Psychology


Considered the most comprehensive handbook in the field, this rich resource reviews the biological, psychological, and social factors that affect health, health behavior, and illness. Many chapters review the latest theories and research while others illustrate how research is translated into clinical and community interventions to improve physical health and emotional well-being. Chapters examine health behavior processes within the social contexts in which we live, including family, social, and cultural communities. The handbook cuts across concepts (behavior change), populations (women's health), risk and protective factors (obesity) and diseases, making it appropriate for a variety of readers from various fields.

Featuring contributions from the top researchers and rising stars in the field, each author provides a theoretical foundation, evaluates the empirical evidence, and makes suggestions for future research, clinical practice, and/or policy. Novices to the field appreciate the accessibly written chapters, while seasoned professionals appreciate the book's deep, cutting edge coverage.

Significantly updated throughout, the new edition reflects the latest approaches to health psychology today:

  • greater emphasis on translating research into practice and policy
  • more on the socio-cultural aspects of health including socioeconomic status, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and aging
  • two new sections on risk and protective factors for disease and another on social and structural influences that affect health
  • more on prevention, interventions, and treatment in the applications section
  • an expansion of the bio-psycho-social model across several levels of analysis, including cultural, macro-social, and cellular factors.

The book opens with the field's central theories, emphasizing the interaction of biological and social systems. Part II reviews the mechanisms that help explain the link between health and behavior across diseases and populations. The all new Part III focuses on variables that lead to the onset of major diseases or that are instrumental in promoting health. Part IV, also new to the second edition, highlights social and structural influences on health. The book concludes with applications of research to specific illnesses and medical conditions.

The Handbookserves as a text in graduate or upper level undergraduate courses in health psychology taught in psychology, public health, medical sociology, medicine, nursing, and other social and allied health sciences. Its cutting edge, comprehensive coverage also appeals to researchers and practitioners in these fields.


Since the publication of the first edition of the Handbook of Health Psychology (Psychology Press, 2001), enormous progress has been made in the connections among biological, psychological, and social components of health, health behavior, and illness. More important, scholars in the field have expanded this tripartite model across even more levels of analysis, including cultural and macrosocial factors at one end and cellular factors at the other. Moreover, a new emphasis has been to translate research evidence in to practice and policy.

The second edition of the handbook reflects these changes and is quite different from the first in terms of both approach and content. The 34 chapters are written by some of the top scholars in health psychology. Each author has taken seriously the task of providing a theoretical foundation, synthesizing and evaluating the empirical evidence, and contemplating how the state of the science can inform future research, clinical practice, and/or policy. The book maintains the first edition’s framework of the biopsychosocial model, but the choice of topics reflects the advances that have been made in the field over the past quarter century. Specifically, this new edition adds sections on risk and protective factors for disease and on macro-level factors that affect health. We believe that this structure more closely reflects current scholarship in health psychology.

The first section, “Overarching Frameworks and Paradigms,” presents the central theories that inform many areas of research within the field. For example, the concept of allostatic load is a “newer” stress theory that emphasizes the interaction of biological and social systems and may explain the onset of many conditions. The second section, “Cross-Cutting Issues,” focuses on the specific mechanisms that help us explain the link between health and behavior across diseases and populations. The third section, “Risk and Protective Factors,” new to the revised edition, focuses on specific variables that lead directly or indirectly to the onset and progression of major diseases or are instrumental in promoting health. Most of these risk and protective factors are applicable across many diseases. Some of the risk and protective factors are behavioral (e.g., smoking, exercise), some psychological (e.g., personality, depression), and some a combination of the two (e.g., obesity). The fourth section, “Macro-Level and Structural Influences on Health,” also a new addition to the second edition, expands on the previous section. Although many structural factors can be conceptualized as risk or protective factors, this section highlights the larger (extraindividual) social and structural influences on health because this is a direction in which health psychology is moving. The final section, “Application to the Study of Disease,” centers on translational research, taking the theories of the earlier sections and applying them to specific disorders.

The primary aim of this handbook is to provide current approaches to many of the critical topics in health . . .

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