Health Psychologist: Role and Responsibilities

PsychologyHealth Psychology

In this stressful world, people’s mental and physical health are highly vulnerable; a small failure, dispute in a relationship, or any sort of dissatisfaction leads to anxiety and stress. And, if such anxiety and stress are not addressed properly, it may lead to serious mental disorders. One of the major reasons for such health-related vulnerability is "low health awareness or literacy." Because of not having proper knowledge of well-being, people keep committing mistakes. Health literacy is a specific skill, strategically defined to locate, comprehend, convey, and apply knowledge in humans' everyday behaviors and helps to improve and maintain health. But the question is – who will take this responsibility? So, to rescue us from such a situation, a health psychologist comes into the picture.

Who Is a Health Psychologist?

Health psychologist is a qualified psychologist with having established knowledge of human health. His primary responsibilities include studying and conducting research, recommending appropriate measures to improve human well-being, and educating people on how to live a healthy lifestyle. A health psychologist sees biological, socio-cultural, and behavioural factors as the causes of health. He collaborates with a group of physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals or works alone.

Role of a Health Psychologist

The promotion of healthy behaviour, the prevention of diseases, and the enhancement of patients' quality of life all benefit greatly from the work of a health psychologist. The ability to comprehend how biological, behavioural, and social factors affect health and sickness is one of the key functions of a health psychologist, who is also a behavioural health provider. No illness can be healed or eliminated without a health psychologist's assistance. They play a crucial role in therapeutic settings where they conduct behavioural evaluations and clinical interviews because they are trained to see how fundamental behavioural and cognitive processes set the body up for dysfunction. They also offer intervention programmes to assist people in giving up bad behaviours like smoking, drinking, stress, and unhealthy eating.

We are aware that health psychology investigates biological, socio-cultural, and behavioral/psychological aspects in relation to health and illness. Providing people with health care services is one of health psychology's major key roles. This covers a range of topics, such as enhancing patient-provider communication, assisting patients in learning about and mentally preparing for major surgeries, and more. They also pay attention to the fact that those from lower socioeconomic groups, remote locations, elderly people, etc., have easier access to facilities.

Responsibilities of a Health Psychologist

It includes −

  • Health psychologist duties at a community level This includes large-scale efforts to address major issues of disease that affect the community as a whole, like the COVID pandemic, diabetes, hypertension, depression, etc. Why do health psychologists need to interact with such a large segment of the population? The reason for this is to make a community aware of the side effects, mode of transmission of a disease, and role of vaccination. One of the prime examples in recent times is the coronavirus pandemic. It was these health psychologists who helped in spreading the awareness of how and why to wear masks, sanitize your hands, keep a social distance, the importance of vaccination, etc. Due to all these efforts at the community level, we were able to control the spread of the coronavirus in later waves.
  • Health psychologist duties at a public level In this role, a health psychologist spends time collecting data, analyzing data, interpreting data, and then referring it to required agencies like NGOs and government agencies. Another aspect of public health psychology is to design prevention programmes like quitting smoking and tobacco chewing to prevent lung and mouth cancer. Health psychologist role at a critical health level: This aspect talks about the economic, social, and political factors that impact the health and illness of a person. At this level, health psychologists try to eradicate the role of caste, creed, religion, poverty, politics, etc. in order to give the best possible psychological and medical support to a person in the state of their illness.
  • Health psychologist duties at clinical level In this section, a health psychologist focuses on the intersection of physical and mental health. That is how a balance of both can be achieved by a person in order to stay healthy. It includes research and interaction with patients at an individual level or at a public group level.

Role of A Health Psychologist in Healthcare

Major roles are −

  • Primary care − It includes diagnostic tools and preventive services in primary health care, illness prevention, and behavioral health promotion.
  • Secondary care − It includes psychological assessments and diagnosis, psychological treatments, and rehabilitation. Such services are provided to different age groups and special needs patients; it includes patients with learning disabilities, the mentally retarded, etc.
  • Tertiary care − is required in chronic and life-threatening acute cases like cancer, kidney failure, brain damage, extensive trauma, etc.

Where Do Health Psychologists Work?

They work across different sectors which require not only medical intervention like hospitals, healthcare clinics. Health psychologists are great administrators in areas of public health like academic institutions, universities, old age homes, rehab centers, community health services, etc. A health psychologist may work on an individual level as a social worker or in a group along with doctors, nurses, etc


Advances in medical and psychological research have helped us have a new outlook for treating illness. This is reflected by the fundamentals of health psychology, which is a bio-psychological model that looks at health and illness as the culmination of biological, social, and behavioral factors. But to convey this aspect of treatment, we need health psychologists who implement this approach to health and illness. They also implement prevention methods along with educating people about illness and health in general.

Updated on 13-Oct-2022 11:19:47