Handbook of Health Psychology

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

INTRODUCTION
Tracey A. Revenson
Andrew Baum

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

(Frost, 1923)

Over the past two decades, health psychology researchers have grappled with critical behavioral, biological, and social science questions: How do personality and behavior contribute to the pathophysiology of cardiovascular disease? What do women gain from screening mammography if it creates anxiety and avoidance of regular screening? Why do we expect individuals to take responsibility for condom use to prevent HIV transmission when using condoms is an interpersonal negotiation? When are social relationships supportive and when are they detrimental to health? Only some of these questions have been answered adequately, many findings have been refuted, and many questions have been reframed along the way. The chapters in this volume address the central questions (still) of interest for Health Psychology, and pose many more for the next decade of research and theory.

Although this is a first edition, one could argue that there are two precursors of this volume. In 1979, Health Psychology-A Handbook, edited by George Stone, Frances Cohen, and Nancy Adler, was published by Jossey-Bass, Inc. At that time the term health psychology was a fairly new one; only a handful of doctoral programs in psychology specifically trained health psychologists, and the Division of Health Psychology (Division 38) had just been established within the American Psychological Association (Wallston, 1997). In the mid-1980s, a series of five edited volumes were published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates under the title, Handbook of Psychology and Health (Baum & Singer, 1982, 1987; Baum, Taylor, & Singer, 1984; Gatchel, Baum, & Singer, 1982; Krantz, Baum, & Singer, 1983). In contrast to the Stone et al. volume, the books in this series focused on specific topic areas, such as child and adolescent health, cardiovascular disorders, coping and stress, or on subdisciplines within psychology (clinical, social). This series was published over several years just as Health Psychology became firmly established in its own right. Although there has been a number of textbooks and edited volumes in the area of health psychology published since then, there has been no other comprehensive “handbook”.1 As there have been great advances in knowledge about health-behavior relationships in the past decade, the time seemed right for a handbook. Although many publications bear the designation of “handbook”, the New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary offers the following definition, “A book containing concise information

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1
There have been other handbooks in specialty areas, for example, Handbook of Stress: Theoretical and Clinical Aspects (Goldberger & Breznitz, 1983, second edition, 1993); Behavioral Health: A Handbook of Health Enhancement and Disease Prevention (Matarazzo et al., 1984); Handbook of Behavioral Medicine (Gentry, 1984)); Health Psychology: A Psychobiological Perspective (Feurestein, Labbe, & Kuczmierczyk, 1986); Behavioral Medicine & Women: A Comprehensive Handbook (Blechman & Brownell, 1988, revised 1998); and Handbook of Diversity issues in Health Psychology (Kato & Mann, 1996).

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