Psychology of Health Problems

Subject 512-938 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 6.25
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2009:

Semester 2, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 1.5 hours of lectures/seminars per week for 12 weeks
Total Time Commitment: Not available

PSYC00029 Graduate Research Methods

PSYC00030 Psychological Assessment across the Lifespan

PSYC00031 Introduction to Psychopathology

Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Dr Nola Rushford


Dr Nola Rushford
Subject Overview:

This unit covers 3 main aspects of the psychology of health problems: (I) the theoretical basis of stress and coping, and implication for medical procedures; (ii) assessment, differential diagnosis and treatment of psychological processes and factors resulting from, and contributing to medical illness management, and chronic illness, disability and rehabilitation; (iii) patient-doctor communications to facilitate adherence and breaking bad news. Topics include: management of responses to illness, hospitalisation and medical treatments; psychological factors in illness; enhancement of patient coping; normal illness behaviour, pain management; grief and loss; preparation for surgery and other invasive procedures; and screening, diagnosis and prognosis.


Students will have an opportunity to develop expertise in the following areas:

  • Recognition, understanding and assessment of psychological responses to illness; hospitalisatio, medical treatment and disability;
  • Understanding of psychological factors contributing to illness;
  • Skill in planning psychological management of medical patients (taking into account common issues such as stress management and patient adherence to treatment);
  • Preparation of patients for surgery and other invasive procedures;
  • Understanding of common presenting difficulties in medical settings, such as pain, secondary depression, medical phobias and anxieties, fatique, post-traumatic stress, death and dying;
  • Understand the above in the context of a biopsychosocial framework;
  • Develop additional knowledge in one aspect of the course through the critical appraisal of the literature for a class presentation.

A mid-semester essay of 1500 words (90% of assessment)

A scheduled 15 minute class presentation during the semester (10% of assessment).

Prescribed Texts:

Baum, A., Neman, S., Weinman, J., West, R., & McManus, C. (eds) (1997) Cambridge Handbook of Psychology, Health and Medicine, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Sweet, J.J., Rozensky, R.H., &Tovian, S.M.(eds) (1991) Handbook of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, New York: Plenum Press

Caltabiano, M., Sarafino, E.P. Health Psychology: Biopsychosocial interactions. Melbourne: John Wiley & Sons

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Written, oral and communication skills

Analytical, information integration and synthesizing skills

Related Course(s): Master of Psychology (Clinical Child)
Master of Psychology (Clinical)
Master of Psychology(Clinical Psychology)/Doctor of Philosophy
Master of Psychology/PhD (Clinical Child)

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