PSYC6001 – Biopsychosocial aspects of health


Module Profile

Click here for the module profile.


This module is taught in a series of 12 lectures of 3 hours each.  Lectures are on Monday afternoons in semester 1, from 2pm until 5pm.  Please check your university timetable for complete and up-to-date information about lecture rooms.

Date Session Lecturer
1. 30/09/19 Scope of Health Psychology Dr. Heather Armstrong
2. 07/10/19 Anatomy and Physiology Becca D’Silva
3. 14/10/19 Basic Epidemiology: Global Morbidity and Mortality Dr. Nisreen Alwan
4. 21/10/19 Health Cognitions and Health Behaviour Dr. Heather Armstrong
5. 28/10/19 Behaviour Change Theories Dr. Lisa Ballard
6. 04/11/19 Sexual Health Dr. Heather Armstrong
7. 11/11/19 Quality of Life Dr. Heather Armstrong & Dr Kim Bull
8. 18/11/19 Personality and Health Dr. Sarah Kirby
9. 25/11/19 Social Support and Health Dr. Kate Morton
10. 02/12/19 Psychosocial Aspects of Later Life Lauren Towler
11. 09/12/19 Social and Cultural Contexts Dr. Sofia Strommer
12. 06/01/20 Tutorial Dr. Heather Armstrong

Session 1:  Scope of Health Psychology • Dr. Heather Armstrong

This session will explore questions such as “what is health psychology?” “How does it relate to other disciplines such as social psychology, clinical psychology, psychiatry and medical sociology?” “How does health psychology differ across countries?” We will compare and contrast the biopsychosocial model with the biomedical model of disease, and consider how lay people understand “health”. In addition, we will discuss the major reasons for the emergence of health psychology, including the epidemiological shift from acute to chronic illness and the evidence-based links between psychological factors and illness.

Essential class readings:

Sarafino, E. P. (2016). Health psychology: Biopsychosocial interactions (9th ed.). Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons. Chapter 1:An overview of psychology and health (pp. 1-30).

Murray, M. (2012) Social history of health psychology: Context and textbooks. Health Psychology Review, 8(2), 215-237. doi: 10.1080/17437199.2012.701058

See also commentaries on Murray’s article:

Friedman, H.S. (2014). Revolutionary health psychology versus scientific health psychology–commentary on Murray (2012). Health Psychology Review, 8(2), 238-241. doi:10.1080/17437199.2013.770048

Ogden, J. (2014). The changing shape of health psychology: A matter of progress or a sign of Thatcher’s children coming of age? Commentary on Murray (2012). Health Psychology Review, 8(2), 242-245. doi: 10.1080/17437199.2013.773122

Murray, M. (2014). The time has come to talk of many things: Some comments on Ogden and Friedman. Health Psychology Review, 8(2), 246-250. doi: 10.1080/17437199.2013.798830

Additional background readings:

Bowling, A. (2014). Research methods in health: Investigating health and health services (4th edition). Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Greenhalgh, T., & Wessely, S. (2004). ‘Health for me’: A sociocultural analysis of healthism in the middle classes. British Medical Bulletin. 69, 197-213. doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldh013

Hanoch, Y., & Finkelstein, E. (2013). Health psychology meets behavioral economics: Introduction to special issue. Health Psychology, 32(9), 929-931. doi:10.1037/hea0000009

Hughner, R. S. & Kleine, S. S. (2004). Views of health in the lay sector: A compilation and review of how individuals think about health. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine, 8, 395-422. doi: 10.1177/1363459304045696

Johnson, B. T., & Acabchuk, R. L. (2018). What are the keys to a longer, happier life? Answers from five decades of health psychology research. Social Science and Medicine, 196, 218-226. Doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2017.11.001

Murray, M. (2018). The pre-history of health psychology in the United Kingdom: From natural science and psychoanalysis to social science, social cognition and beyond. Journal of Health Psychology, 23(3), 472-491. doi:10.1177/1359105317705879.

Stam, H.J. (2000). Theorizing health and illness: Functionalism, subjectivity and reflexivity. Journal of Health Psychology, 5, 273 – 283. doi: 10.1177/135910530000500309

Smith, R., Weihs, K. L., Alkozei, A., Killgore, W. D. S., & Lane, R. (2019). An embodied neurocomputational framework for organically integrating biopsychosocial processes. An application to the role of social support in health and disease. Psychosomatic Medicine, 81(2), 125-145. doi:10.1097/PSY.0000000000000661

Special issues

The European Health Psychologist, Volume 16, issue 6 (2017). Various articles on Health Psychology practice within Europe, focusing on issues such as: legal regulation, employability, education and training, future directions. See:

Journal of Health Psychology, Volume 23, issue 3 (2018). Special theme issue on the history of health psychology. Provides a global perspective and personal accounts of health psychology within different geographical areas, including: France, Canada, Brazil, South Africa, New Zealand, UK and US. See:

Session 2
: Anatomy and Physiology • Becca D’Silva

Students will be introduced to the principle of complementarity of structure and function, the levels of structural organisation and the main tissue types in the body. Structural body systems and their key functions will be explored alongside their interrelationship. The basis of circadian rhythms will be outlined and the structure and function of the nervous system will be discussed in more detail.

Essential class reading:

Lane, R. D., Waldstein, S. R., Chesney, M. A., Jennings, J. R., Lovallo, W. R., Kozel, P. J., et al. (2009). The rebirth of neuroscience in psychosomatic medicine, part I: Historical context, methods, and relevant basic science. Psychosomatic Medicine, 71(2), 117-134. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e31819783be

Taylor, S.E. (2015). Health Psychology (9th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education. Chapter 2: The systems of the body (pp. 17-42).

Additional background readings:

Ginty, A. T., Kraynak, T. E., Fisher, J. P., Gianaros, P. J. (2017). Cardiovascular and autonomic reactivity to psychological stress: Neuropysiological substrates and links to cardiovascular disease. Autonomic Neuroscience, 207, 2-9. doi:10.1016/j/autneu.2017.03.003

Lane, R. D., Waldstein, S. R., Critchley, H. D., Derbyshire, S. W., Drossman, D. A., Wager, T. D., et al. (2009). The rebirth of neuroscience in psychosomatic medicine, part II: Clinical applications and implications for research. Psychosomatic Medicine, 71(2), 135-151. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e318198a11f

Potter, G. D. M., Skene, D. J., Arendt, J., Cade, J. E., Grant, P. J., & Hardie, L. J. (2016). Circadian rhythm and sleep disruption: Causes, metabolic consequences, and countermeasures. Endocrine Reviews, 37(6), 584-608. doi: 10.1210/er.2016-1083

Useful Textbooks

Luecken, L. J., & Gallo, L. C. (2008). Handbook of physiological research methods in health psychology. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

Marieb, E. N., & Hoehn, K. (2019). Human anatomy & physiology (11th ed.). Pearson London.

Bear, M. F., Connors, B. W., & Paradiso, M. A. (2015). Neuroscience exploring the brain. (4th ed). Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Session 3:  Basic Epidemiology: Global Morbidity and Mortality • Dr. Nisreen Alwan

This session introduces basic epidemiological constructs, focusing on measures of morbidity and mortality such as incidence, prevalence, death rates, and disability adjusted life years (DALYs). We will take a global perspective and discuss major causes of morbidity and mortality and the contribution of health behaviours. We will explore questions including: what are the major causes of death? How do these differ across countries and regions?

Essential class reading:

Steptoe, A., Gardner, B., & Wardle, J. (2010). The role of behaviour in health. In D. French, K. Vedhara, A.A. Kaptein, & J. Weinman (eds). Health Psychology (2nd edition) (pp 13-32). Chichester: BPS Blackwell.

Coggon, C., Barker, D., Rose, G. (2003). Epidemiology for the uninitiated (4th edition). BMJ Books. Available from the BMJ website ( Sections 1. What is epidemiology?; 2. Quantifying disease in populations; 3. Comparing disease rates.

Pearce, N. (2005). A short introduction to epidemiology. Wellington, New Zealand.

Campbell, M. J., &  Swinscow, T. D. V. (2009). Statistics at square one. London, BMJ. Older editions available online at:


World Health Organisation Web Pages on Global Burden of Disease (an accessible general introduction and overview to the project and measures, plus some interactive tools):

Lancet Web Pages on Global Burden of Disease (includes interactive tools, audio recordings and videos):

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (tools to help you visualise data on the global burden of disease): and

Additional background readings:

See articles from Global Burden of Disease Study 2017 at:– key articles identified on Blackboard.

Chida, Y., & Steptoe, A. (2008). Positive psychological well-being and mortality: A quantitative review of prospective observational studies. Psychosomatic Medicine, 70, 741-756. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e31818105ba

Darbes, L. A., van Rooyen, H., Hosegood, V., Ngubane, T., Johnson, M. O., Fritz, K., McGrath, N. (2014). Uthando Lwethu (‘our love’): A protocol for a couple-based intervention to increase testing for HIV: a randomised controlled trial in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Trials, 15(64). doi:10.1186/1745-6215-15-64 (An example of interventions to address risk – led by University of Southampton, informed from epidemiological studies).

Idler, E., & Benyamini, Y. (1997). Self-rated health and mortality: A review of twenty-seven community studies. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 38(1), 21-37. Retrieved from

Islami, F., Sauer, A. G., Miller, K. D., Siegel, R. L., Fedewa, S. A., Jacobs, E. J., … & Jemal, A. (2017). Proportion and number of cancer cases and deaths attributable to potentially modifiable risk factors in the United States. CA Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 68(1), 31-54. doi:10.3322/caac.21440

McBeth, J., & Cordingley, L. (2009). Current issues and new direction in Psychology and Health: Epidemiology and health psychology: Please bridge the gap (Editorial). Psychology and Health, 24(8), 861-865. doi: 10.1080/08870440802611226

The US Burden of Disease Collaborators (2018). The state of US health, 1990-2016: Burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors among US states. Journal of the American Medical Association, 319(14), 1444-1472. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.0158

Moussavi, S., Chatterji, S., Verdes, E., Tandon, A., Patel, V., & Ustun, B. (2007). Depression, chronic diseases, and decrements in health: Results from the World Health Surveys. The Lancet, 370(9590), 851-858. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61415-9

Wilding, S., Ziaudden, N., Roderick, P., Smith, D., Chase, D., Macklon, N., McGrath, N., Hanson, M., & Alwan, N. A. (2019). Are socioeconomic inequalities in the incidence of small-for-gestational-age birth narrowing? Findings from a population-based cohort in the South of England. BMJ Open, 9, e026998. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026998 (another example epidemiological study led by University of Southampton)

Useful Textbooks

Bonita, R., Beaglehole, R., Kjellström, T., & World Health Organization. (2006). Basic epidemiology (2nd ed.). Geneva: World Health Organization.

Session 4: Health Cognitions and Health Behaviour • Dr. Heather Armstrong

This session introduces the significance of learning mechanisms and cognitive processes for health-related behaviours. Major models of health behaviour will be discussed, including: the stages-of-change model, Bandura’s social cognitive theory, the health belief model (HBM), the protection motivation theory (PMT), the theory of planned behaviour (TPB), and the health action process approach (HAPA). We will use these models to explore the determinants of healthy and unhealthy behaviours, considering questions such as: what makes someone stop smoking? Why do some people take regular exercise and others do not? What factors influence whether we eat a healthy diet?

This session will also provide an overview of the assignment for this module (the behaviour change diary and essay) and you will have an opportunity to ask questions about this piece of course-work.

*****Preparatory work: Pease read Chapter 2 in Ogden’s textbook (details below) before this session and bring your notes to class.

Essential class reading:

Ogden, J. (2019). Health psychology (6thed.). Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education.  Chapter 2: Health beliefs.

Ogden, J. (2003). Some problems with social cognition models: a pragmatic and conceptual analysis. Health Psychology, 22(4), 424-428. doi: 10.1037/0278-6133.22.4.424

Additional background readings:

NOTE. Most of these readings are key papers from the authors of particular models, or review or commentary papers. You should also identify for yourself and read some recent primary research studies on health cognitions and health behaviour. More suggested background readings are provided for this session to support you with your coursework.

Ajzen, I. (2002). Perceived behavioral control, self-efficacy, locus of control, and the theory of planned behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 32(4), 665-683. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2002.tb00236.x

Ajzen, I. (2011). The theory of planned behaviour: Reactions and reflections. Psychology & Health, 26(9), 1113-1127. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2011.613995

Bandura, A. (1998). Health promotion from the perspective of social cognitive theory. Psychology & Health, 13(4), 623-649. doi: 10.1080/0887044980840742

Floyd, D. L., Prentice-Dunn, S., & Rogers, R. W. (2000). A meta-analysis of research on protection motivation theory. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30(2), 407-429. doi: 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2000.tb02323.x

Gardner, B., de Bruijn, G. J., Lally, P. (2011). A systematic review and meta-analysis of applications of the Self-Report Habit Index to nutrition and physical activity behaviours. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 42(2), 174-87. doi: 10.1007/s12160-011-9282-0.

Gwaltney, C. J., Metrik, J., Kahler, C. W., Shiffman, S. (2009). Self-efficacy and smoking cessation: A meta-analysis. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 23(1), 56-66. doi: 10.1037/a0013529

Head, K. J., & Noar, S.M. (2014). Facilitating progress in health behaviour theory development and modification: The reasoned action approach as a case study. Health Psychology Review, 8(1), 34-52. doi: 10.1080/17437199.2013.778165

Jones, C. J., Smith, H., & Llewellyn, C. (2013). Evaluating the effectiveness of health belief model interventions in improving adherence: A systematic review. Health Psychology Review, 8(3), 253-269. doi:10.1080/17437199.2013.802623

Lawton, R., Conner, M., & McEachan, R. (2009). Desire or reason: Predicting health behaviors from affective and cognitive attitudes. Health Psychology, 28(1), 56-65. doi: 10.1037/a0013424

Lippke, S., & Plotnikoff, R. C. (2014). Testing two principles of the Health Action Process Approach in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Health Psychology, 33(1), 77-84. doi: 10.1037/a0030182

Mankarious, E., & Kothe, E. (2015). A meta-analysis of the effects of measuring theory of planned behaviour constructs on behaviour within prospective studies. Health Psychology Review, 9(2), 190-204. doi: 10.1080/17437199.2014.927722

McEachan, R. R. C., Conner, M., Taylor, N. J., & Lawton, R. J. (2011). Prospective prediction of health-related behaviours with the Theory of Planned Behaviour: A meta-analysis. Health Psychology Review, 5(2), 97-144. doi: 10.1080/17437199.2010.521684

McWilliams, L., Bellhouse, S., Yorke, J., Lloyd, K., & Armitage, C. J. (2019). Beyond ‘planning’: A meta-analysis of implementation intentions to support smoking cessation. Health Psychology. doi:10.1037/hea0000768

Noar, S. M., & Zimmerman, R. S. (2005). Health behaviour theory and cumulative knowledge regarding health behaviours: Are we moving in the right direction? Health Education Research, 20(3), 275-290. doi: 10.1093/her/cyg113

Peters G. J. Y., Ruiter R.A.C., & Kok, G. (2013). Threatening communication: A critical re-analysis and a revised meta-analytic test of fear appeal theory. Health Psychology Review, 7(suppl 1), S8-S31. doi: 10.1080/17437199.2012.703527.

Schwarzer, R., Lippke, S., & Luszczynska, A. (2011). Mechanisms of health behavior change in persons with chronic illness or disability: The Health Action Process Approach (HAPA). Rehabilitation Psychology, 56(3), 161-170. doi:10.1037/a0024509

Webb, T. L., & Sheeran, P. (2006). Does changing behavioral intentions engender behavior change? A meta-analysis of the experimental evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 132(2), 249-268. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.132.2.249

Zhang, C-Q., Zhang, R., Schwarzer, R., & Hagger, M. S. (2019). A meta-analysis of the health action process approach. Health Psychology, 38(7), 623-637. doi:10.1037/hea0000728

Session 5: Behaviour Change Theories and Techniques  Dr. Lisa Ballard

This session extends our coverage of key health psychology models, building on the earlier session on health cognitions and behaviours.  We focus on a recent influential movement in health psychology – the behaviour change technique (BCT) taxonomy project – and use this to explore how health psychology theories and models can be tested and applied to real world public health challenges.  Key questions for this session include:  What do health psychology models tell us about improving public health?  What are behaviour change techniques and are they effective?

Essential class readings:

Michie, S., Richardson, M., Johnston, M., Abraham, C., Francis, J., Hardeman, W., & Wood, C. E. (2013). The behaviour change technique taxonomy (v1) of 93 hierarchically clustered techniques: building an international consensus for the reporting of behaviour change interventions. Annals of Behavioural Medicine, 46(1), 81-95. doi: 10.1007/s12160-013-9486-6

Prestwich, A., Sniehotta, F.F., Whittington, C., Dombrowski, S.U., Rogers, L., & Michie, S. (2014). Does theory influence the effectiveness of health behavior interventions? Meta-analysis. Health Psychology, 33(5), 465-474. doi: 10.1037/a0032853

Additional background readings:

Davidson, K. W., Goldstein, M., Kaplan, R.M., Kaufmann, P.G., Knatterud, G.L., Orleans, C.T., et al. (2003). Evidence-based behavioral medicine: What is it and how do we achieve it? Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 26(3), 161-171. doi: 10.1207/S15324796ABM2603_01

Dombrowski, S. U., Sniehotta, F. F., Avenell, A., Johnston, M., MacLennan, G., & Araujo-Soares, V. (2012). Identifying active ingredients in complex behavioural interventions for obese adults with obesity-related co-morbidities or additional risk factors for co-morbidities: A systematic review. Health Psychology Review, 6,7-32. doi: 10.1080/17437199.2010.513298

Michie, S., van Stralen, M. M., & West, R. (2011). The behaviour change wheel: A new method for characterising and designing behaviour change interventions. Implementation Science, 23(6), 42. doi: 10.1186/1748-5908-6-42.

Michie, S., & Johnston, M. (2012). Theories and techniques of behaviour change: Developing a cumulative science of behaviour change. Health Psychology Review, 6(1), 1-6. doi:10.1080/17437199.2012.654964

Michie, S., West, R., Sheals, K., & Godinho, C. A. (2018). Evaluating the effectiveness of behaviour change techniques in health-related behaviour: A scoping review of methods used. Translational Behavioural Medicine, 8(2), 212-224. doi:10.1093/tbm/ibx019

Lippke, S., & Ziegelmann, J. P. (2008). Theory-based health behavior change: Developing, testing and applying theories for evidence-based interventions. Applied Psychology, 57(4), 698-716. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-0597.2008.00339.x

Prestwich, A., Kellar, I., Parker, R., MacRae, S., Learmonth, M., Sykes, B., Taylor, N., & Castle H. (2014) How can self-efficacy be increased? Meta-analysis of dietary interventions. Health Psychology Review, 8(3), 270-285. doi:10.1080/17437199.2013.813729

Richardson, M., Khouja, C. L., Sutcliffe, K., & Thomas, J. (2019). Using the theoretical domains framework and the behavioural change wheel in an overarching synthesis of systematic reviews. BMJ Open, 9, e024950. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-024950

Web Resources
Behaviour Change Taxonomy website:

Session 6: Sexual Health  Dr. Heather Armstrong

This session will explore sexual health, including sexual function and dysfunction. Additionally, we will discuss and explore several theoretical models which detail how sexuality can affect and be affected by each individual and their environment. Finally, students will be introduced to several novel sexual health interventions.

Essential class readings:

Basson, R. (2001). Human sex-response cycles. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 27(1), 33-43.

Halkitis, P. N., Wolitski, R. J., & Millett, G. A. (2013). A holistic approach to addressing HIV infection disparities in gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. American Psychologist, 68(4), 261.

Lick, D. J., Durso, L. E., & Johnson, K. L. (2013). Minority stress and physical health among sexual minorities. Persepectives on Psychological Science, 8(5), 521-548.

Additional background readings:

Ogden, J. (2019). Health psychology (6thed.). Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education.  Chapter 6: Sex.

Basson, R. (2005). Women’s sexual dysfunction: Revised and expanded definitions. CMAJ, 172(10), 1327-1333.

Meyer, I. H. (1995). Minority stress and mental health in gay men. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 38-56.

Van den Berg, J. J., Fernandez, M. I., Fava, J. L., Operario, D., Ruby, B. J., & Wilson, P. A. (2017). Using syndemic theory to investigate risk and protective factors associated with condomless sex among youth living with HIV in 17 US cities. AIDS and Behavior, 21(3), 833-844.

Wilson, P. A., Nanin, J., Amesty, S., Wallace, S., Cherenack, E. M., & Fullilove, R. (2014). Using syndemic theory to understand vulnerability to HIV infection among Black and Latino men in New York City. Journal of Urban Health, 91(5), 983-998.


Session 7: Quality of Life • Dr Heather Armstrong and Dr Kim Bull  

The first part of this session introduces and distinguishes between the concepts of quality of life (QoL) and health-related quality of life (HRQoL).To help us to think critically about these concepts you will be invited to reflect on what each concept means to you. The WHO model of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health will be used to provide a theoretical background, relating QoL and HRQoL to the concepts of health, functioning, disability and wellbeing. We will also critically discuss methodological approaches to measuring HRQoL to enable you to evaluate how HRQoL has been examined in published research.

In the second part of the session you will have the opportunity to hear about Quality of Life Research in-action. Dr Kim Bull, Senior Research Fellow within Clinical and Experimental Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton will discuss her research examining quality of life in children treated for brain tumours.

Essential class readings:

Pietersma, S., de Vries, M., van den Akker-van Marle, M. E. (2014). Domains of quality of life: results of a three-stage Delphi consensus procedure among patients, family of patients, clinicians, scientists and the general public. Quality of Life Research, 23(5), 1534-1556. doi: 10.1007/s11136-013-0578-3

Ogden, J. (2019). Health psychology (6th ed.). Maidenhead: McGraw Hill Education. Chapter 18: Measuring health status: From mortality rates to quality of life.

Additional background readings:

Arden-Close, E. J., Kirby, S. E., Yardley, L., Bruton, A., Ainsworth, B., & Thomas, D, M. (2019). Evaluation of a breathing retraining intervention to improve quality of life in asthma: quantitative process analysis of the BREATHE randomized controlled trial. Clinical Rehabilitation, 33(7), 1139-1149. doi: 10.1177/02698215519832942

Beecham, E., Langner, R., Hargrave, D., & Bluebond-Langner, M. (2018). Children and parents’ conceptualisation of qualitative of life in children with brain tumors: A meta-ethnographic exploration. Qualitative Health Research, 29(1), 55-68. doi:10.1177/1049732318786484

Bowling, A. (2005). Measuring health: a review of quality of life measurement scales (3rded.). Maidenhead: Open University Press. Chapter 1: Concepts of functioning, health, well-being and quality of life (pp. 1-9).

Cieza, A., & Stucki, G. (2005). Content comparison of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) instruments based on the international classification of functioning, disability and health (ICF). Quality of Life Research, 14, 1225-1237. doi: 10.1007/s11136-004-4773-0

Ferrans, C. E., Zerwic, J. J., Wilbur, J. E., Larson, J. L. (2005). Conceptual model of health-related quality of life. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 37(4), 336–342. doi: 10.1111/j.1547-5069.2005.00058.x)

Taillefer, M. C., Dupuis, G., Roberge, M.A., Le May, S. (2003). Health-related quality of life models: Systematic review of the literature. Social Indicators Research, 64, 293–323. doi: 10.1023/A:1024740307643

Tiernen, C. W., Fleishman, H. A., Hiscox, M. A., Shaver, S. N., Stauffer, C. M., & Thibodeau, P. A. (2019). Factors related to self-rated health in older adults. A clinical approach using the international classification of functioning, disability and health (ICF) model. Geriatric Physical Therapy, 42(2), 86-97. doi:10.1519/JPT.0000000000000130

Van Hecke, N., Claes, C., Vanderplasschen, W., De Maeyer, J., De Witte, N., Vandevelde, S. (2018). Conceptualisation and measurement of quality of life based on Schalock and Verdugo’s model: A cross-disciplinary review of the literature. Social Indicators Research, 137(1), 335-351. doi: 10.1004/s11205-017-1596-2

Wood-Dauphinee, S. (1999). Assessing quality of life in clinical research: From where have we come and where are we going? Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 52(4), 355-63. doi: 10.1016/S0895-4356(98)00179-6 (Provides a useful historical overview of the concept of quality of life)

Session 8: Personality and Health  Dr. Sarah Kirby

This session will be divided into two sections. The first half of the session begins with a brief introduction to the definition and an overview of models of personality. We will then explore how personality may contribute to health outcomes, and consider the role of specific concepts such as self-efficacy, locus of control, optimism.

In the second half of the session, you will take part in a structured debate based on the statement “Individuals bring illness on themselves through their personalities”. You will be allocated (in the session) into one of two groups. Group 1 will support the statement and group 2 will oppose the statement. Each side will present their arguments, receive questions and rebuttals from the opposing side, and present their responses to the questions and rebuttals.

Essential class reading:

Any two from the following chapters:

French, D., Vedhara, K., Kaptein, A.A., & Weinman J. (Eds.). (2010). Health psychology. (2nd ed.) Chichester: BPS Blackwell. Ch 23: Personality, health and illness

Larsen, R. J., & Buss, D. M. (2018) Personality Psychology: Domains of knowledge about human nature (6th Ed). New York: McGraw-Hill.  Ch 7: Physiological approaches to personality; Ch 18: Stress, coping, adjustment and health

Smith, T.W., Gallo, L.C., Shivpuri, S., & Brewer, A.L. (2012). Personality and health: Current issues and emerging perspectives. In A. Baum, T. Revenson, & J. Singer (Eds.), Handbook of health psychology (2nd Edition) (pp. 374 – 404). New York: Taylor & Francis.

Additional background readings:

Allen, J., & Brock, S. A. (2000).Health care communication using personality type: Patients are different! Hove: Routledge.

Allen, M. S., & Walter, E. E. (2018). Linking big five personality traits to sexuality and sexual health: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulleting, 144(10), 1081-1110. doi:10.1037/bul0000157

Special issue of ‘Brain, Behavior, and Immunity’ on personality and disease: (If you only read one, then this one is recommended: Friedman, H. S. (2008). The multiple linkages of personality and disease. Brain, Behaviour and Immunity, 22, 668-675. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2007.09.004).

Chatzisarantis, N.L.D., & Hagger, M.S. (2008). Influences of personality traits and continuation on physical activity participation within the theory of planned behaviour. Psychology and Health, 23, 347-367. doi: 10.1080/14768320601185866

Cheng, C., Cheung, M. W. L., & Lo, B. C. Y. (2016). Relationship of health locus of control with specific health behaviours and global health appraisal: A meta-analysis and effects of moderators. Health Psychology Review, 10(4), 460-477. doi:10.1080/17437199.2016.1219672

Contrada, R. J., & Coups, E. J. (2003). Personality and self-regulation in health and disease: Towards an integrative perspective. In L. D. Cameron and H. Leventhal (Eds.), The self regulation of health and illness behavior (pp. 66-94). London: Routledge.

Ferguson, E. (2013). Personality is of central concern to understand health: Towards a theoretical model for health psychology. Health Psychology Review, 7 (suppl. 1), S32-S70. doi: 10.1080/17437199.2010.547985

Kubzansky, L. D., Martin, L. T., & Buka, S. L. (2009). Early manifestations of personality and adult health: A life course perspective. Health Psychology, 28(3), 364-372. doi: 10.1037/a0014428

Segerstrom, S. C. (2019). Between the error bars. How modern theory, design, and methodology enrich the personality-health tradition. Psychosomatic Medicine, 81(5), 408-414. doi: 10.1097/PSY0000000000000701

Sirois, F. M., & Hirsch, J. K. (2015). Big five traits, affect balance and health behaviours: A self-regulation resource perspective. Personality and individual differences, 87, 59-64. Doi:10.1016/j.paid.2015.07.031

Session 9: Social Support and Health • Dr. Kate Morton

What is social support, and how it is conceptualised and measured will be considered as the starting point for this session. Is social support associated with health and responses to illness, and if so can we enhance the individuals’ support? Is benefit of receiving social support equal to the harm its absence may cause? What quantity is sufficient to benefit health? Is it the quantity or quality of social support that matters the most? How might social groups be established? Once these theoretical issues have been explored, the proposed mechanisms of this link, and issues related to the development of a supportive environment will be discussed, considering the approaches to changing the environment and the individual.

Essential class readings:

Berkman, F. A., Glass, T., Brissette, I., & Seeman, T. E. (2000). From social integration to health: Durkheim in the new millennium. Social Science & Medicine, 51,843-857. doi: 10.1016/S0277-9536(00)00065-4

Additional background readings:

Special issue of ‘Health Psychology’ on the role of social networks in adult health:

Farrell, A. K., Imami, L., Stanton, S. C. E., Slatcher, R. B. (2018). Affective processes as mediators of links between close relationships and physical health. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 12(7), e12408. doi:10.1111/spc3.12408

Gottlieb, B.H., & Bergen, A.E. (2010). Social support concepts and measures. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 69, 511-520. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2009.10.001

Hakulinen, C., Pulkki-Raback, L., Virtanen, M., Jokela, M., Kivimaki, M., & Elovanio, M. (2018). Social isolation and loneliness as risk factors for myocardial infarction, stroke, and mortality: UK Biobank cohort study of 479054 men and women. Heart, 104, 1536-42. doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2017-312663

Hogan, B. E., Linden, W. & Najarian, B. (2002). Social support interventions – do they work? Clinical Psychology Review, 22, 381-440. doi: 10.1016/S0272-7358(01)00102-7

Holt-Lunstad, J. (2018). Why social relationships are important for physical health: A systems approach to understanding and modifying risk and protection. Annual Review of Psychology, 69, 437-458. doi: 10.1146/annurev-psych-122216-011902

Kiecolt-Glaser, J.K., & Newton, T.L. (2001). Marriage and health: His and hers. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 472-503. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.127.4.472

Kroenke, C. H. (2018). A conceptual model of social networks and mechanisms of cancer mortality, and potential strategies to improve survival. Translational Behavioural Medicine, 8(4), 629-642. doi:10.1093/tbm/ibx061

Lutgendorf, S.K., De Geest, K., Bender, D., et al. (2012). Social influences on the clinical outcomes of patients with ovarian cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 30, 2885-2890. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2011.39.4411

Nausheen, B., Gidron, Y., Gregg, A., Tissarchondou, H., & Peveler, R. (2007). Loneliness, social support and cardiovascular reactivity to laboratory stress. Stress, 10, 37-44. doi: 10.1080/10253890601135434

Strine, T.W., Chapman, D.P., Balluz, L., & Mokdad, A.H. (2008). Health-related quality of life and health behaviors by social and emotional support. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 43, 151-159. doi: 10.1007/s00127-007-0277-x

Uchino, B. N., Trettevik, R., Kent de Grey, R. G., Cronan, S., Hogan, J., & Baucom, B. R. W. (2018). Social support, social integration, and inflammatory cytokines: A meta-analysis. Health Psychology, 37(5), 462-471. doi:10.1037/hea0000594

Session 10:  Psychosocial Aspects of Later Life • Lauren Towler

Three interrelated issues will be addressed: maintenance of self-esteem in advanced old age; institutional care environments; and dementia and personhood. Maintenance of self-esteem is central to well-being in old age as at earlier stages of life. Self-esteem in general does not decline until the last decades of life. Psychological theory on the self in late life emphasises the declining effectiveness of processes of assimilation (e.g. resistance) and growing benefits to mental health of accommodation (e.g. disengagement). But western culture makes this a difficult transition for most older people. The study of adjustment to institutional living has been a major research area in psychogerontology since the 1960s. The poor quality of life provided in institutions has been a continuous cause of concern. The basic needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness are difficult to satisfy and are often in conflict with one another. Dementia is a major fear for most people growing old, and caring for people with mental infirmity one of the most unpopular of occupations. Recent psychological research has highlighted the benefits of a person-centred approach and the potential of applying psychological theory (e.g. attachment theory) to improve insight into care needs.

Essential class readings:

Coleman , P. G., & O’Hanlon, A. (2017). Aging and Development : Social and Emotional Perspectives (2nd Ed). Routledge: London. Part three, Chapters 6 (Perspectives on late life) and 7 (current research on development and adaptation in late life).

Kloos, N., Trompetter, H. R., Bohlmeijer, E. T., & Westerhof, G. J. (2019). Longitudinal associations of autonomy, relatedness, and competence with the wellbeing of nursing home residents. Gerontologist, 59(4), 635-643. doi:10.1093/geront/gny005

Additional background readings:

Baltes, P.B. (1997). On the incomplete architecture of human ontogeny: Selection, optimization, and compensation as foundation of developmental theory. American Psychologist, 52, 366-80. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.52.4.366

Dickinson, C., Dow, J., Gibson, G., Hayes, L., Robalino, S., & Robinson, L. (2017). Psychosocial interventions for carers of people with dementia: What components are most effective and when? A systematic review of reviews. International Psychogeriatrics, 29(1), 31-43. doi:10.1017/S1041610216001447

Ferrand, C., Martinent, G., & Durmaz, N. (2014). Psychological need satisfaction and well-being in adults aged 80 years and older living in residential homes: Using a self-determination theory perspective. Journal of Aging Studies, 30, 104-111. doi: 10.1016/j.jaging.2014.04.004

Fitzpatrick, J. M., & Tzouvara, V. (2019). Facilitators and inhibitors of transition for older people who have relocated to a long-term care facility: A systematic review. Health and Social Care in the Community, 27(3), e57-e81. doi:10.1111/hsc.12647

Johnston, B., & Narayanasamy, M. (2016). Exploring psychosocial interventions for people with dementia that enhance personhood and relate to legacy- an integrative review. BMC Geriatr. 5(16), 77. doi: 10.1186/s12877-016-0250-1

McDermott, O., Charlesworth, G., Hogervorst, E., Stoner, C., Moniz-Cook, E., Spector, A., Csipke, E., & Orrell, M. (2019). Psychosocial interventions for people with dementia: A synthesis of systematic reviews. Aging and Mental Health, 23(4), 393-403. doi:10.1080/13607863.2017.1423031

Reker, G. T. (1997). Personal meaning, optimism and choice: Existential predictors of depression in community and institutional elderly. The Gerontologist, 37, 709-16. doi: 10.1093/geront/37.6.709

Robinson, L., Gemski, A., Abley, C., et al. (2011). The transition to dementia – individual and family experiences of receiving a diagnosis: A review. International Psychogeriatrics, 23, 1026-1043. doi: 10.1017/S1041610210002437

Wang, M., & Chi, J. (2014).  Psychological Research on Retirement. Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 209–33. doi: 10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115131

Zwijsen, S., van der Ploeg, E., & Hertogh C. (2016). Understanding the world of dementia: how do people with dementia experience the world? International Psychogeriatrics, 28(7), 1067-77. doi: 10.1017/S1041610216000351

Useful Textbooks

Bond, J., Peace, S., Dittmann-Kohli, F. & Westerhof, G. (eds.). (2007). Ageing in society. European perspectives on gerontology (3rd ed). Sage, London

Johnson, M.J., Bengtson, V.L., Coleman, P.G. & Kirkwood, T.B.L. (eds.). (2005). The Cambridge handbook of age and ageing. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Woods, R.T. (ed.). (1999). Psychological problems of ageing: Assessment, treatment and care. Wiley, Chichester.

Session 11:  Social and Cultural Contexts • Dr. Sofia Strommer

This week we will explore the impact of social and cultural contexts on health and disease and discuss the potential pathways through which such factors can influence health-related outcomes. Half of this session will be presented by the lecturer, and the other half will consist of student presentations in groups.  The lecturer-led part of the session will examine socio-economic status and health inequalities, identifying relevant psychological factors and processes.  The student-led part of the session will consider the nature of culture, non-Western health beliefs and how different cultures can influence health behaviours and practices such as smoking and care-seeking.  To prepare for this session, students will work in groups to research and write a presentation on a set topic related to cultural influences on health.  The groups and topics will be organised by the module convener in an earlier class.

Essential class readings:

Berry, J.W., & Sam, D.L. (2007). Cultural and Ethnic factors in health. In: S. Ayres, A. Baum, C. McManus, S. Newman, K. Wallston, J. Weinman, & R. West (Eds.). Cambridge handbook of psychology, health, and medicine (2nd Edition). Cambridge University Press, pp 64-69.

Rudell, K. and Diefenbach, M. A. (2008). Culture and health psychology: Why health psychologists should care about culture. Psychology & Health, 23, 387-390. doi: 10.1080/08870440701864983

Additional background readings:

Bishop, F.L., Yardley, L., & Lewith, G.T. (2007). A systematic review of beliefs involved in the use of complementary and alternative medicine. Journal of Health Psychology, 12, 851-867. doi: 10.1177/1359105307082447

Brewer, M. B., & Chen, Y-R. (2007). Where (who) are collectives in collectivism? Toward conceptual clarification of individualism and collectivism. Psychological Review, 114 (1), 133-151. doi: 10.1037/0033-295X.114.1.133

Fuller-Rowell, T. E., Curtis, D. S., Chae, D. H., & Ryff, C. D. (2018). Longitudinal health consequences of socioeconomic disadvantage: Examining perceived discrimination as a mediator. Health Psychology, 37(5), 491-500. doi:10.1037/hea0000616

Gibbons, F. X., Kingsbury, J. H., Weng, C., Gerrard, M., Cutrona, C., Wills, T. A., & Stock, M. (2014). Effects of perceived racial discrimination on health status and health behavior: A differential mediation hypothesis. Health Psychology, 33(1), 11-19. doi:10.1037/a0033857

Mays,V. M., Cochran, S. D., and Barnes, N.W. (2007). Race, race-based discrimination, and health outcomes among African Americans. Annual Review of Psychology, 58, 201-225. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.57.102904.190212

Marmot, M. (2005). Social determinants of health inequalities. Lancet, 365, 1099-1104. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(05)71146-6

Marmot, M., Allen, J., Goldblatt, P., Boyce, T., McNeish, D., Grady, M., & Geddes, I. (2010). Fair Society, Healthy Lives. The Marmot Review Executive Summary. Available at

Matthews KA & Gallo LC (2011). Psychological perspectives on pathways linking socioeconomic status and physical health. Annual Review of Psychology, 62, 501-530. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.031809.130711

Okely, J. A., Weiss, A., & Gale, C. R. (2018). The interaction between individualism and wellbeing in predicting mortality: Survey of Health Ageing and Retirement in Europe. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 41(1), 1-11. doi:10.1007/s10865-017-9871-x

Web Resources

Institute of Health Equity – (N.B. will be publishing a new report ‘Health Equity in England: The Marmot Review 10 years on’ in February 2020, to mark the 10th anniversary of the original Marmot report – see additional background reading).

Session 12:  Tutorial   Dr Heather Armstrong 

This session focuses on feedback and exam preparation. You will have the opportunity to discuss feedback on your assignment. You will be given details about the exam, have the opportunity to ask questions about it, and work through example exam questions in class.

Please note you will be provided with an example exam paper to work through under exam conditions. The example exam paper and accompanying answer sheet will be made available via Blackboard in due course.

Assessment Details

Formative feedback is provided in class through informal quizzes and other classroom based activities, including for example a student presentation.  Out of class, you can assess your own learning by taking multiple choice quizzes via

The learning outcomes for this module are assessed through one exam and two pieces of coursework:

  • Exam (60%) 2-hours.
  • Diary-based essay (40%).
  • Skills portfolio (0%)

Material for the diary-based essay will be handed out in the “Health Cognitions and Health Behaviour” lecture. More information on the exam will be given via Blackboard later in the term and in person in the tutorial.


The 2-hour exam will comprise a mixture of multiple-choice and short-answer questions to assess your learning across the whole module.

Diary-Based Essay

You will need to decide on a health-related behavioural change you will make over three weeks. You will collect data and keep a reflective e-diary (meaning you should produce a text file on a computer) about your choice and how making and maintaining the change goes. “Reflective” means that you try to observe and describe your own mental processes that are generally thought to be important predictors of health behaviour, such as beliefs, attitudes, subjective norms, barriers, moods, etc. At the end of the three weeks, you will write an essay concerning the process of your behaviour change in relation to one of the social cognition models. The account should not be more than 2,000 words and should take a critical approach to the model you selected. You must also hand in your diary, as an appendix to your essay – submit them together as one document. The 2,000 word limit includes the main body of your essay (title to last word of conclusions), but does not include the diary or the reference list. You must declare the word count of the main body of your essay on the Cover Sheet.

In addition to the criteria detailed previously (see MSc Health Psychology Programme Handbook, section “Marking Scheme”), students need to link the contents of the reflective diary to the theory and research on the chosen social cognition model. To obtain a mark in the Distinction band students will demonstrate a link between the content of the reflective diary and both the theoretical elements and empirical issues of the social cognition model chosen. Furthermore, this link between the diary, theory and research will show evidence of detailed critical appraisal of both these dimensions. Where students only provide detailed critical appraisal in one of these areas, the mark will fall into the Pass band. Students who provide a limited, uncritical link between their reflective diary and both areas are likely to receive a mark in the low pass band (below 60). Failure to link the content of the reflective diary to the theoretical model or empirical issues is likely to receive a mark below 50, and consequently fail this piece of coursework.

In order to give references in the text and in the reference list in the correct format (and to avoid missing references either in the text or in the list) it is strongly recommended that you use an electronic reference management programme, such as EndNote or Reference Manager. A quite useful side-effect is that you save a lot of time and tedious effort – not just for this essay but for every essay that you will write in the future.

Skills Portfolio

In order to complete the Skills Portfolio PSYC6001, you will attend a number of specific sessions on the MSc Health Psychology Skills Training Programme. You will also upload specific documentation regarding these sessions, typically a short reflective log. A complete portfolio must be submitted in order to Pass this module.  For details about the portfolio, please see the MSc Health Psychology Skills Programme module on Blackboard.

Note on Referrals

Students who fail the exam will take a resit.  Students who fail the coursework will redo the coursework.