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Specialization in Experimental Health Psychology

About the Specialization in Health Psychology

Health psychology is devoted to understanding the impact of psychological factors on health and illness. Health psychologists share an interest in the following:

  • The promotion and maintenance of health and the prevention of physical and mental illness;
  • Psychological aspects of the diagnosis and management of physical and mental illness;
  • Psychosocial, emotional, and behavioral consequences of physical and mental illness;
  • The improvement of the health-care system and formulation of health policy.
Experimental

Students who elect the health psychology specialization in experimental psychology must complete all of the general requirements for the experimental psychology doctoral program. Program-specific requirements include courses or seminars of particular relevance to health psychology, and supervised research experience in an area of health psychology. Courses or seminars may simultaneously meet other requirements or research course requirements of the experimental program.

Faculty

Brett Peters, Research interests include stress, relationships, psychophysiology, and health.

Peggy Zoccola, Research interests include rumination and worry, stress and coping, sleep, cortisol, and effects of interpersonal and cognitive processes on physiology and health. Go to Laboratory.

Affiliated Faculty

Timothy Anderson, Research interests include psychotherapy process and outcome research in the context of physical and mental illness, psychological assessment.

Bruce Carlson, Research interests include the evaluation of diagnostic tests, generalized regression models.

Christopher France, Research interests include psychophysiology of pain and cardiovascular disorders, hypertension, interventions to prevent blood donation syncope, stress and coping. Go to Laboratory.

Claudia Gonzalez-Vallejo, Research interests include applications of judgment and decision-making research to medical decision making and public policy.

Ryan C. Johnson, Research interests include exploring relationships between work and non-work life, with a focus on well-being and health behaviors.

Julie Suhr, Research interests include neuropsychology of pain and other medical conditions, assessment and management of Alzheimer's disease, detection of malingering, effects of psychological state on neuropsychological performance. Go to Laboratory.

Recommended Courses

Considerable flexibility is available in the experimental health psychology specialty area, but each student should attempt to meet the following general training objectives:

  1. Obtain necessary background not only in experimental health psychology, but in related areas (e.g., physiology, neuroscience, and pathophysiology) in order to read and critically evaluate relevant research and clinical literature in health psychology;
  2. Obtain a working knowledge of the literature in more than one content area or disorder in health psychology; and
  3. Obtain more detailed knowledge and research competence in a specific area or with a particular disorder.

Requirements

Students who elect the health psychology specialization in experimental psychology must complete all of the general requirements for the experimental psychology doctoral program. (See Degree Requirements for Experimental Psychology).

Program-specific requirements are listed below. In addition to the didactic course in health psychology, there are requirements in two areas:

  1. courses or seminars of particular relevance to health psychology, and
  2. supervised research experience in an area of health psychology.

Courses or seminars may simultaneously meet other area requirements or research course requirements of the experimental program.

Health Psychology Core Courses

  • 6210 Human Psychophysiology
  • 6220 Physiological Psychology
  • 7250 Health Psychology
  • 7240 Psychoneuroimmunology

Health Psychology Area and Related Background Courses

Complete a minimum of three:

  • 6210 Applied Psychophysiology
  • 7210 Neuropsychology
  • 7270 Psychopharmacology and Psychotherapy
  • 7280 Pediatric Psychology
  • 6310 Cognitive Processes
  • 6510 Experimental Social Psychology
  • 890x Seminars on health psychology or related topics

Note: The courses listed above will not all be offered in a given 2- to 3- year period. Other courses in health psychology or related subfields (e.g., social, cognitive) that may be offered in the future also meet this requirement. Students are encouraged to discuss these courses with their advisers.

Extra-departmental Courses

Students may wish to consider courses in other departments that will enhance their health psychology training. Among possible courses are the following:

  • Exercise Physiology (BIOS 5450)
  • Exercise Physiology Lab (BIOS 5455)
  • Endocrinology (BIOS 5500)
  • Immunology (BIOS 5860)
  • Immunology Lab (BIOS5865)
  • Intro to Health Communication (COMS 7400)
  • Health Promotion and Behavior (HLTH 6070)
  • Epidemiology in Health Planning (HLTH 6300)
  • Epidemiology in Public Health (HLTH 6730)
  • Biostatistics in Public Health    (HLTH 6740)

Research Experience

  1. Independent research typically performed as a dissertation on a topic in health psychology.
  2. Presentation of one paper on a topic in health psychology at a regional or national convention.
  3. Collaboration with a faculty member on an article or chapter or a submitted grant application.

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