Health Psychology

Course Description:

Health is experienced within a broad psychosocial context. Physical states affect mental states and mental states can and do influence the course of both health and illness. This course investigates the relationship that exists between physical and mental health. Emphasis is placed on the role that psychological and social factors play for both physical health and illness. The course also examines stress and stress management techniques.

Course Objectives:

  1. Students will understand how psychologists in the field of Health Psychology study the mind –body interaction.
  2. Students will acquire knowledge on the theories and empirical findings linking psychological and social factors to physical health and illness.
  3. Students will understand the role of spirituality for health and healing.
  4. Students will understand the nature of stress and how stress affects both psychological and physical processes.
  5. Students will become aware of their own stress tolerance levels and triggers.
  6. Students will become familiar with a number of different stress management techniques.
  7. Students will acquire an appreciation for the difference between the biomedical and biopsychosocial models of health and illness.
  8. Students will understand the psychological theories behind health promotion.

Course Text:

Brannon, L., Feist, J. (2010) Health Psychology (7th edition). California: Wadsworth

Course and Assignment Schedule

Date -Topic -Assignment

8/30 -Introduction -Getting to know each other

9/1 -History and Methodologies -Goal sheets due Read chapter 1&2

9/8 -Paradigms/film -Team assignment

9/13 -Team meeting with instructor -Reflection paper 1 due by 12:00 Noon. Turn it in Angel

9/15 -Seeking health care -Chapter 3

9/20 -Adhering to Medical Advice -Chapter 4

9/22 -Stress -Chapter 5

9/24 -Stress and Disease -Chapter 6 plus assigned reading

9/29 -Team meetings -Reflection 2 due by 12:00 noon—turn in Angel

10/1 -Exam 1

10/4 -Pain -Chapter 7

10/6 -Stress management -Chapter 8

10/11 -NO CLASS

10/13 -Heart Disease -Chapter 9

10/18 -Cancer -Chapter 10

10/21 -Dr. Felitti -Lecture

10/25 -Team meetings -Reflection 3 plus goal sheet update due by noon. Turn it in Angel.

10/27 -Dealing with Chronic disease -Chapter 11

11/1 -Personality and Health -Assigned readings

11/3 -Exam 2

11/8‐11/22 -Behavioral health -Chapters 12‐15

11/24 -Team meetings

11/26 -Thanksgiving

12/1‐12/3 -Spirituality -Assigned readings

December 8‐10 -Class presentations

Finals week -Exam 3

Course Requirements

  1. Three exams worth 60 points
  2. Reflection papers worth 30 points
  3. Goal reports worth 10 points
  4. Semester long major project and oral presentation worth 100 points

Goal Report Card

You will be asked to submit a list of personal goals for this class and report your progress on the goals throughout the course of the term. The goals submission is an attempt to help you maximize your success in this course. They will be judged according to the following criteria:

0‐not submitted

1‐cursory description

2‐ adequate

3‐ Insightful and well developed.

Students receiving 3 on all 3 of their goals submissions will be awarded an additional bonus point.


Reflection papers will require you to apply class material to documentaries and or lectures presented in and out of class. Separate postings will be made on Angel for each of the reflections.

Major Project and Oral Presentation

You will have the opportunity to do a traditional project or a service‐based learning project. Details for each of the projects are provided in separate handouts. The nature of these projects will be discussed during the first class meeting.

Grading Criteria

A+= 200points

A= 199‐186

A‐= 185‐180

B+= 179‐177


B‐ 165—160


C= 156‐146

C‐= 140‐145

D= 135‐139

F= 134 points or less

Students are expected to attend class and participate in group discussions. Excessive absences will result in a letter grade penalty. Students are also expected to do their own original work. Plagiarism of any kind will be prosecuted to the fullest extent. The student handbook contains information regarding plagiarism. Please consult the handbook for further information on plagiarism. Any student failing to complete the assignment by the assigned due date will receive a “0” for the assignment.

Health Psychology Service‐based learning and Paper Requirements:

Smoking Cessation Group

Group Project

You have been assigned to a team to promote healthy life style habits. Your team is specifically concerned with tobacco smoking in the college population. You will be working with Amanda Cady from Faxton‐St. Lukes Hospital to design a smoking cessation intervention for the college population. Her contact information will be made available to you. She will be meeting with your group initially during the second week of the semester. You will then meet with her once a week for the duration of the semester. This service‐based learning project will require a minimum of four hours a week. The product you produce will be used on campuses across the State.

As a team, you must design a “product” that will promote your assigned health style area. The “product” may take the form of a promotional video, an educational game, pamphlets, or any other methodology that is appropriate for the target group designated. In designing your “product,” be careful to consider the following points:

Your choice of product and the actual design of the “product” must be based upon the evidence‐based research collected from professional sources. A minimum of ten (10) professional sources are required.

Your “product” design and methodology must be appropriate for the age group targeted. You need to consider the age, socioeconomic and cultural background of your target population as you design the “product.”

Paper Requirements

A separate paper from each participant in the group is also required. The paper must include the following sections.

Part A: Literature review is required. The literature review must include:

a. A discussion of the target behavior or concern you are addressing.

b. Interventions used in the past and the present along with the evidence based research used to assess the intervention efficacy.

c. A discussion of the health promotion models and strategies used to promote health for your target population and problem. Again, you need to research the studies already done in the area to promote health and / or to deter negative health habits for your targeted problem area.

d. A summary that brings together the sections noted above and provides an introduction for rationale portion of the paper.

Part B: A description of the group project along with your own individual contribution to the group project.

Part C: The justification and rationale for the project is presented in this section of the paper. Here you must explain how your “product” meets the objectives stated for health style promotion for the population you have targeted and how the theories of health promotion apply to your “product.”

Part D: A conclusion that describes what you have learned from the project.

Part E: A reference section listing your professional sources.

Your project and paper will be judged on the following criteria:

  1. Comprehensiveness and accuracy of the literature review.
  2. Appropriateness of the project for the target group.
  3. Novelty of the project
  4. The general appeal of the project for the target group.
  5. The comprehensiveness and accuracy of the application of the health promotion theories to your “product.”
  6. The clarity of your oral presentation.
  7. The quality of your written paper. Quality is measured by the number of grammatical and spelling errors as well as the organization and transitional flow of the paper.

School: State University of New York Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome
Professor: Dr. Joanne Joseph
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