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COURSE NAME: "Health Psychology"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2018

INSTRUCTOR: Nicola Petrocchi
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 8:30-9:45 AM
PREREQUISITES: Prerequisite: PS 101
OFFICE HOURS: Before or after class or by appointment

This course will examine five broad areas: the foundations of health psychology including health research; stress, pain and coping; behavioral factors in cardiovascular disease and chronic disease; tobacco, alcohol, drugs, eating, and exercise; and challenges in health psychology.

The purpose of this course is to help students develop an understanding of how cognitive, emotional, behavioral, social and biological factors contribute to physical health and illness. Current research and examples across a number of health concerns will be examined and students will have opportunities to evaluate, synthesize and apply this information to case studies and to consider this information for management of their own health. One of the aims of the course is to prepare the student to read psychological literature with a critical eye, considering the difficulties involved in studying human psychological processes in an objective way. 


At the end of this course in Health Psychology, students should have an understanding and appreciation of common health concerns and current evidence relating the role of physiology, emotions, cognition, and behavior choices to the prevention and treatment of illness and to the promotion and maintenance of health.

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Health Psychology: a textbook. 5th Edition, 2012Jane Ogden, Ph.D. Open University PressISBN-10: 0335243835 ISBN-13: 978-0335243839 https://jculibrary.on.worldcat.org/atoztitles/ebooks?searchType=matchAll&btitle=health+psychology

3 tests 25 % each
Presentation 15%
participation in class activities 10%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


Attendance and participation, although not mandatory, are essential to earn a good grade for this course. Students are strongly invited to attend every class meeting, and to come to class prepared and ready to participate in discussions. 

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. 
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


SessionSession FocusReading AssignmentOther AssignmentMeeting Place/Exam Dates
WEEK 1 Introducing Health Psychology: background and aims. CHAPTER 1 & SLIDES  
WEEK 1 The focus of health psychology : The biopsychosocial model, Health as a continuum; The relationship between psychology and healthCHAPTER 1 & SLIDES  
WEEK 2 Health inequalities - Explaining variability in health and illnessCHAPTER 2 & SLIDES  
WEEK 2 Health beliefs, behaviour and behaviour changeCHAPTER 3 & SLIDES  
WEEK 3Health locus of control - Risk perception - Unrealistic optimism - Risk compensation CHAPTER 3 & SLIDES  
WEEK 3 Motivation and self-determination theory in health - Self-efficacy - Social cognition models - The intention–behaviour gap - The role of past behaviour and habitCHAPTER 3 & SLIDES  
WEEK 4 Addictive behaviours; The processes involved in learning an addictive behaviour; ceasing an addictive behaviour; A cross-addictive behaviour perspectiveCHAPTER 4 & SLIDES  
WEEK 4 Developmental models of eating behaviour; A weight concern model of eating behaviourCHAPTER 5 & SLIDES  
WEEK 5 The meaning of food and weight; Body dissatisfaction; Dieting; Causes of overeating The role of dieting in mood and cognitive changesCHAPTER 5 & SLIDES 1° TEST - date tbd
WEEK 6Exploring the contemporary concern with exercise behaviour; Cognitive and emotional determinants of exercisingCHAPTER 6 & SLIDES  
WEEK 6 A brief history of the literature on sexual behaviors; Developmental models of contraceptive use; Sex as an interaction and the role of negotiation; Perceptions of risk and susceptibilityCHAPTER 7 & SLIDES  
WEEK 7Health promotion: changing health behaviours; How to change behaviour:The need for theory-based interventions; Making plans and implementation intentionsCHAPTER 8 & SLIDES  
WEEK 7 Health promotion: Stage models; Stage-matched interventions; Motivational interviewing; Fear appeals, Self-affirmation; Using biological risk dataCHAPTER 8 & SLIDES  
WEEK 8Becoming ill: Illness cognitions; Leventhal’s self-regulatory model of illness behaviour; Adjustment to physical illness and the theory of cognitive adaptationCHAPTER 9 & SLIDES  
WEEK 8 Post-traumatic growth and benefit-finding;How do illness cognitions relate to coping? Predicting adherence to treatment ; Predicting illness outcomes ;The central role of coherenceCHAPTER 9 & SLIDES  
WEEK 9Stress :What is stress?; The development of stress models; A role for psychological factors in stress; heart rate variability; Measuring stress CHAPTER 11 & SLIDES  
WEEK 9Does stress cause illness?How does stress cause illness? The chronic process; The acute process; Individual variability in the stress–illness linkCHAPTER 12 & SLIDES  
WEEK 10Psychoneuroimmunology: The immune system; Conditioning the immune system; Measuring immune changes; Psychological state and immunity; Social supportCHAPTER 12 & SLIDES 2° TEST - date tbd
WEEK 11 Social support: What is social support? Measuring social support; Does social support affect health?CHAPTER 12 & HANDOUTS  
WEEK 11 Being ill: Pain and the placebo effect. Early pain theories: pain as a sensation; Including psychology in theories of pain; The gate control theory of painCHAPTER 13 & SLIDES  
WEEK 12 HIV and cancer: psychology throughout the course of illness; Chronic illness and psychology HIV and AIDSCHAPTER 14 & SLIDES  
WEEK 12 The role of psychology in cancer; The psychosocial factors in the initiation and promotion of cancer; Psychological consequences of cancerCHAPTER 14 & SLIDES  
WEEK 13Obesity and coronary heart disease: psychology throughout the course of illness. Obesity:The role of psychological factorsCHAPTER 15 & SLIDES  
WEEK 13 Coronary heart disease: Risk factors for CHD; Beliefs about CHD; The psychological impact of CHD; Rehabilitation of patients with CHD; Predicting uptake of rehabilitation; Modifying risk factors CHAPTER 19 & HANDOUTS  
WEEK 14The efficacy of interventions to promote mindfulness and compassion in health - review of the the final examSLIDEA AND HANDOUTS 3° TEST - date tbd