Briefing Series on the Role of Psychology in Health Care
Many of the leading causes of disease and mortality in the United States are preventable through the modification of unhealthy behaviors (e.g., tobacco and excess alcohol use, physical inactivity, and poor diet) and treatment of comorbid mental health conditions (e.g., depression, anxiety, and stress). Psychology, as the science of behavior, has much to offer to enhance health promotion and disease prevention and address health disparities in primary care and other health care settings. Psychologists’ various contributions include: developing and implementing prevention programs; providing diagnostic and treatment services; facilitating health team organizational development and promoting effective communication; and conducting and applying research findings to improve overall health status and provide culturally competent care.
Based on scientific evidence, this health briefing series focuses on a wide range of health conditions to further highlight psychology’s vital roles across health care settings. Special briefing sheets have also been developed to focus more broadly on psychology’s contributions to primary care and integrated health care across settings. This health briefing series is collaboratively developed with APA’s Interdivisional Health Care Committee, a coalition of health-oriented divisions within the association. This page will be modified as new health topics are added in the future.
Role of Psychology in Integrated Health Care (PDF, 100KB)
Reliance on integrated, interprofessional health care teams, which include psychologists, enables our evolving health care system to address the physical, psychological, and social aspects of health. This compelling approach to service delivery contributes to achieving the "triple aim" of health care reform by improving patient access, quality of care, and cost effectiveness.
Role of Psychology in Chronic Pain (PDF, 91KB)
Psychological interventions, such as cognitive behavioral and self-regulatory therapies, have been shown to be effective treatments for pain. Psychological interventions for pain are safe, effective, and cost effective, but are generally underutilized, although they are just as effective when compared to surgery.
Role of Psychology in Primary Care (PDF, 104KB)
Psychologists provide vital mental and behavioral health services in primary care. They identify and modify behaviors to promote the health and wellness of individuals across the lifespan. A significant and growing number of psychologists (e.g., in such areas as health, clinical, counseling, family, and rehabilitation psychology, as well as geropsychology) provide interprofessional, team-based care in pediatric, adult, and family-oriented primary care settings in both the public and private sector.