This volume was conceived during the waning stages of initial, rapid growth of health psychology. In the preceding years the fiel. d had defined itself, identified important contributions and targets of opportunity, and had achieved a remarkable degree of influence within its parent field as well as the larger behavioral medicine arena. Behavioral treatments and adjunctive treatments for palliation and cure were developed, prevention that relied on behavior and behavior change was expanded, and psychological variables were more routinely included in models of the etiology of disease and promotion or maintenance of good health. Public health conceptions of air- borne or water-borne diseases or disease vectors had been supplemented by “lifestyle-borne diseases” and the expansion of medical psychology practice with patients and at-risk individuals had occurred. Clearly this was a time of great accomplishment that required a pause and an opportunity to reflect and integrate all that had been learned and done.
As with all Handbooks, preparation and finalization of chapters and contributions took longer than was initially expected, and the pause in the rapid growth of health psychology was brief (if, indeed, there was a pause). As the volume was being put together, important new research and theory in areas like cancer, women's health, and socioeconomic or sociocultural phenomena appeared and new emphases on community involvement, prevention, and survivorship evolved. The field was continuing to grow and mature at a rate that made it difficult to keep up. Consequently, this volume had to do more than summarize previous work and chart new directions. It also had to integrate new work often as related chapters were being completed. The Handbook has incorporated these new and breaking developments for the most part and represents a comprehensive summary and integration of current research and theory in health psychology. It should serve as a valuable resource for many years, containing the roots and seeds of future discoveries and accomplishments as well as the more established and enduring bases, applications, and implications of our work over the past 30 years.
There are many people who have contributed to the development of health psychology and to this book over the years, far too many to thank in this preface. One who should be singled out, for his rare vision, wit, and patience, and for his support, friendship, and enthusiasm for health psychology is Larry Erlbaum. As a friend, colleague, publisher, and mentsch he has been and continues to be a pillar of the health psychology community. We would also like to thank Michele Hayward for her patience, outstanding organizational and editorial skills and stewardship of this project from its inception, and to production and editorial folks at LEA, most notably Art Lizza. Most of all, we thank the contributors to this volume and to the field of health psychology for their hard work, dedication, and vision.