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University of Rhode Island — Psychology
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PSY 255 - Health Psychology
Course Information

Professor: Dr. James O. Prochaska and Dr. Colleen A. Redding
Semester: Spring
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: PSY 113

Catalog Description: Investigates the relationship between behavior and health; emphasizes the theory and science of health behavior change; explores specific behaviors and behavior change strategies from an individual and public health perspective.

Course Goals & Outcomes

This course provides a comprehensive introduction to the field of Health Psychology. The course will describe the relationships between behavior and health, and it will emphasize the theory and science of health behavior change. The course will explore specific behaviors and behavior change strategies from both an individual and public health perspective. By the end of the semester students will be able to:

  • Differentiate between various theoretical perspectives used to study and intervene upon the behavioral risks for many diseases that are the focal points of individual and public health concerns.
  • Gain an understanding of the role that behavior and behavior changes play in individual and public health, as well as within various cultural/ethnic subgroups and advantaged/disadvantaged subgroups in our society.
  • Discuss the most important behavior change principles and some of the mechanisms that can accomplish behavior change on both a population and individual level.
  • Analyze interventions that have an impact on our ability to change unhealthy behaviors and enhance adoption of healthy behaviors.
  • Investigate and experience personally some of the evidence-based tailored health interventions that can be delivered over the internet.
  • Read complex texts
  • Examine human differences
  • Use information technology
Course Syllabus

This is a team-taught course, which consists of two components: a lecture portion and 2 major assignments. Students must demonstrate their theoretical knowledge of the content via the course exams. Participating faculty lecture in their areas of expertise.

Class Topics:

  • Introduction to Health Psychology
  • Health Research Methods
  • Theories of Health Behavior Change
  • The Transtheoretical Model of Change
  • Health Care Seeking and Adherence
  • Stress and Stress Management
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections
  • HIV/AIDS and Sexual Behavior Change
  • Pain and It's Management
  • Cardiovascular Disease and Behavioral Risk Factors
  • Smoking and Public Health; Smoking Cessation Interventions
  • Alcohol Use and Abuse
  • Preventing Alcohol Abuse
  • Exercise and Health
  • Eating Habits and Health
  • Changing Exercise Behavior
  • Weight Management/Obesity
  • Injury Prevention and Public Health
  • Cancer Prevention and Behavioral Risks
  • Sun Exposure and Skin Cancer
  • Chronic Illness: Diabetes
  • Coping with Illness
  • Multiple Risk Behaviors, Integration and Future Challenges
About The Professor

Dr. Prochaska is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and a Clinical Psychologist. His research interests are in the development of a transtheoretical model of behavior change that integrates stages, processes and levels of change. He studies applications of this model to understanding how people change health related behaviors such as smoking, diet, exercise, and safe sex practices and mental health related behaviors, such as alcohol and drug abuse, stress and distress; development of interventions based on this model to accelerate changes in problem behaviors; and development of an integrative model of psychotherapy for eclectic therapists. He currently directs several funded projects through the Cancer Prevention Research Center.

Reasons To Take This Course

This course is designated to meet the Topics requirement for Psychology majors. Psychology majors are required to take 3 topics courses.

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