1 Health Psychology: Overview

Health Psychology


  1. David F. Marks PhD

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop209001

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Marks, D. F. 2012. Health Psychology: Overview. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 9:I:1.

Author Information

  1. Journal of Health Psychology, London, United Kingdom

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent” (John Donne). This overview of health psychology gives an account of health in the context of society and culture. A multidimensional definition is helpful in conceptualizing the “continent” of health. Each person has a unique makeup of age, sex, and hereditary factors. Each person's health is a multidimensional state of balance with physical, mental, psychosocial, educational, economic, cultural, and spiritual aspects. The principle of compensation enables any one element that is relatively strong to compensate for a relative lack in another element. Thus a balance between the different dimensions is as important as strength in any particular set of these. The cult of individualism spawned the questionable construct of the “anything in moderation” responsible consumer. Alternative theories and approaches must be tried to enable faster results and more efficient use of assets and resources than was possible in the campaign to reduce smoking. The endemic toxicity of the physical and social environment is extended to all of the major determinants of health and well-being, including obesity, sexual health, and stress. Qualitative, community, and critical perspectives are offering alternative methods for research and intervention. Conceptual clarification to radically alter current theories and methods with large-scale evaluation studies is needed. Health psychology can contribute toward health improvements in the context of the sociopolitical struggles of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.


  • health psychology;
  • multidimensional theory of health;
  • principle of compensation;
  • individualist paradigm;
  • responsible consumer;
  • community paradigm;
  • the qualitative turn;
  • social justice