Bulgaria

Anna Alexandrova-Karamanova
Department of Psychology,
Institute for Population and Human Studies,
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
Acad. G. Bonchev str., bl. 6, fl. 5/6
Sofia 1113
Bulgaria
 
Health psychology appeared in Bulgaria in the very beginning of 21st century. It was recognized as a separate discipline when in 2000 a course in health psychology was introduced in the curriculum (at bachelor’s level) in the biggest university in the country Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. 
Also in 2000 the Health Psychology Research Center (HPRC), an independent research organization, was founded and started research in the area of health psychology, as well as health promotion activities (www.healthpsychologycenter.org). 
Health psychology’s institutionalization at a national level took place at the triennial National Congress of Bulgarian Psychologists in 2008, when for the first time a separate scientific session (with 9 presentations) was devoted to health psychology. A separate health psychology session is also scheduled for the forthcoming National Congress of Bulgarian Psychologists in November, 2011. 
In 2010, the Department of Psychology at the reorganized Institute for Population and Human Studies – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, also recognized health psychology as a main area of its studies by forming a Section “Developmental and Health Psychology”. Meanwhile at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” a doctoral program in health psychology was established. 
 
National Associations: 
The national psychological association is the Bulgarian Psychological Society (BPS), member of EFPA. Several sections exist with the BPS, but currently not a section in health psychology. In July 2011 an interest group in health psychology - composed mostly of EHPS members and organized by the Health Psychology Research Center - met and discussed the possibility of forming a health psychology section within the Bulgarian Psychological Society.
 
 

 

Education, training and professionalisation: 
A specialized course in health psychology is included in the curriculum of psychology students at the bachelor and master level in Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” (within the “Clinical and Counseling Psychology” Master’s Program). A doctoral program has been established in the last few years. Master’s programs in health psychology at this time are not offered in Bulgaria. Some other courses in the domain of health psychology are usually offered within the Master’s Programs of Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, of Plovdiv University “Paisii Hilendarski”, of New Bulgarian University (Sofia), of Varna Free University “Chernorizets Hrabar”, of South-West University “Neofit Rilski” (Blagoevgrad). 
The title “Health Psychologist” is quite new and there is no formal licensure procedure. Health issues and work within the healthcare system have for a long time been in the realm of clinical psychologists.
 
Research: 
Health psychology research from Bulgaria is published in international and national journals; in Bulgaria – in the two main psychological journals Bulgarian Journal of Psychology (published by the Bulgarian Psychological Society, since 1973) and Psychological Investigations (published by the Institute for Population and Human Studies – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, since 1987). A new journal Clinical and Counseling Psychology appeared in 2009, which publishes research in clinical, counseling and health psychology. Health psychology research is published also in conference proceedings and universities’ yearbooks. 
 
The only research institute in health psychology is the Health Psychology Research Center (HPRC), based in Sofia. The Center is currently involved in the international projects: 
- Improving quality and safety in the hospital: The link between organizational culture, burnout and quality of care (ORCAB) - Seventh Framework Programme Project, http://orcab.web.auth.gr; 
- Preventing Depression and Improving Awareness through Networking in the EU (PREDI-NU) – EU Second Health Programme (2008-2013) Project; 
- Psychosocial, Political and Gendered Dimensions of Preventive Technologies in Bulgaria and Romania: HPV Vaccine Implementation; 
- European Cancer Health Indicator Project 3 (EUROCHIP 3): http://www.tumori.net/eurochip/. 
 
HPRC, together with colleagues from the Institute for Population and Human Studies – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, are the national team that conducts the Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children: WHO Collaborative Cross-National Study (HBSC, www.hbsc.org) in Bulgaria. (Occupational) stress is one of the traditional research topics of the Institute for Population and Human Studies – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; they are also studying psychological adaptation to chronic illness and well-being, happiness and life satisfaction. 
 
At Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, within the Department of General, Experimental and Genetic Psychology since 1997 operates the Laboratory for Intercultural Studies of Human Development and Mental Health, which conducts research in mental health and coping with stress. Members of the Laboratory are supervisors of doctoral students, who study the role of personality resources in patients’ recovery after cardio-vascular interventions and the role of attachment styles in risk sexual behaviour. Members of the Department of Social, Work and Educational Psychology are participating in the “Student Life Cohort in Europe – SliCE” - cross-national longitudinal study, assessing health and health behaviours among university students, conducted at universities in 13 European countries. 
 
The National Center of Public Health and Analyses at the Ministry of Health works in the areas of public health protection, evaluation of environmental health risks factors, behaviour and lifestyle risk factors, health promotion and illness prevention.
 
Reports: