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Topics covered by the course

A brief outline of the main topics of the course
Mental health therapy. Emotional state, mentality healthcare and medical therapies prevention mental problem
© Università degli Studi di Padova

Welcome to the Introduction to Health Psychology course.

In these four weeks, we will review the most important and basic elements of health psychology.

Health Psychology comprises a lot of different aspects: they range from social psychology to clinical psychology, with relevant influences from political science to medicine, ergonomics, work psychology and even bioengineering.

For these reasons, it is hard to summarize such heterogeneous worlds in a single comprehensive course.

Our aim is to give the you a glimpse of what Health Psychology is, its boundaries, and its link with other disciplines.

At the end of the course, you should find yourselves at ease with the terminology and areas of this discipline and be able to deepen your knowledge in the specific domains of Health Psychology that are more interesting for you.

The course is organized in four weeks.
Most of the lessons are audio lessons as they were thought of as podcasts. Each week has a main theme, and it will be introduced through a short video lesson and wrapped up with a test.

First Week

In the first week, we will introduce the main concepts of health psychology and we will discuss what health is along with its various definitions.

The quest for a comprehensive definition of health will be framed through a historical overview to give an idea of how diseases and health were defined through different historical eras of western society. The principal modern models of health, well-being, and diseases will be discussed as well.

In the second half of the week, you will familiarize yourselves with the area of Social Health Psychology and Behavioral Health Psychology.

Namely, you will learn what healthy and risky behaviors are and how to promote the former and disincentivize the latter.

Promoting healthy behaviors, as well as reducing the risky ones, can be done at an individual level but also with campaign and decision taken at political level. We will cover both of these aspects during Week 1.

Second Week

In the second week, you will better understand and learn to cope with the challenges in the journey from health to illness.

In this sense, you will learn how a physical sensation becomes a symptom.
Then, you’ll see how symptoms induce in individuals the idea that they are sick and that they might need a medical consultation.

Another crucial aspect discussed in this week is why and how individuals ask (or don’t ask) for medical consultations. An overview of the fundamental steps of a clinical consultation and the positive practices in breaking bad news will also be provided.

Third Week

The journey started in Week 2 will continue and end in Week 3 when you will get in touch with the psychological experience of being looked after.

This includes the psychological burden of the disease and its effect on the disease itself. Moreover, you will learn the strategies to cope with somatic disorders in a more functional way and how to implement such strategies.

Finally, the second part of the week is also dedicated to the role of caregiver, again including, the psychological burden attached to this role and its negative effects on general health.

Fourth Week

Finally, in the fourth week of the course you will go on an excursion on emerging topics in health psychology.

While these aspects of health psychology are not so extensively considered in the typical health psychology course, they will most probably become fundamental issues in the near future.

Two emerging topics are how to promote health in emerging countries and how to use technology and the internet to promote health on a large scale.

Besides these, you will also find topics related to a more theoretical debate, such as what psychosomatics is or where the boundaries are between health psychology and other similar branches of psychology, medicine, and social science.

So… follow us in this journey and Buon Viaggio!

© Università degli Studi di Padova
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Introduction to Health Psychology

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