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Future of health psychology is still unknown but there are some important goals that health psychologist need to approach for the future development of the discipline.
Starting from the basic ideal for professional health psychologists that all people have the right to health and healthcare (WHO, 1995), there are still differences in health all over the world, including highly influencing parts such as Europe. Health inequalities reflect social inequalities (Kawachi, 1999) and every health psychologist work should be oriented to try to reduce them. There are also health inequalities when it comes to accessing health education and services due to differences in gender, age, ethnicity, believes and sexual orientation; health psychology should target those people with a poorer access or greater need of healthcare and work to cover their necessities (Michie, 2007).
Moving on to more specific aspects in the discipline, future development in health psychology should orientate empirical work through theories that already exist; this would lead to the rejection of those theories that are proven wrong and to the development of evidence-based theories and techniques for reducing health-risk behaviours and increasing health protective ones (Michie & Abraham, 2004).
On the area of research and intervention, whilst substantial effort has been invested in the design of interventions for changing behaviour and promoting health, HPs must pay more attention to the development and research of efficient methods for promoting their use (Michie & Abraham, 2004). This suggests that, although there are some promising health interventions, HPs should be more specific when describing the intervention programs so they could be implemented in other contexts.
As the last but not least future improvement for health psychology, this one relies on the personal choices of each professional. Individual health psychologists may develop themselves in a particular area of research; however, they never must stop learning and they should be aware of findings in the other areas so they might be able to connect one theory to another one for improving treatment and research on the psychological and social processes that have an impact on our health (Abraham, 2007).
These ways of future development of health psychology, suggest that for the discipline of health psychology to keep growing, new health psychologists must approach to the prevailing health reality and keep their minds open to society needs and demands (Garzón & Caro, 2013).
Research and development of health psychology may also contribute to society with the promotion of a series of values that are connected to the discipline. Murray and his colleagues (2004) identified that, besides health promotion and disease prevention, the practice and development of health psychology is a way of making a more equalitarian society and enhances care, compassion and collaboration within the members in the community.
This is evidence of the relevance of socioeconomic status as a major factor on the prediction of people’s illness and health.
Another issue that health psychologists must be aware of is the influence that societies have on people’s cognition and behaviour (Carroll et al., 1993). Kennedy and Kawachi (1999) argued that health could be affected by the distribution of income within society, with health status being better in those societies with a more equivalent dispersion of the income. The fact that health has to do with economics and society implies that any health intervention needs to be carried out at a political level, for which health psychologists must also be aware of political issues and have some knowledge about the relationships between economic policies and individual wellbeing (Bandura, 2000).
These researches suggest that health psychology is a multidisciplinary field and health psychologists’ comprehension needs to go further than just psychology and just health; they must be aware of the political, social and legislative context in which they work (Michie, 2007).
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