Considering theoretical and research developments, Clinical Health Psychology is a traditional and productive area in Italy. Most significant contributions of Italian clinical health psychology focus on basic psychological and psycho-physiologic mechanisms affecting health and well being, doctor-patient relationship, quality of health care.
A Social Psychological approach to health also has developed since the beginnings, focusing on issues such as psychosocial determinants of health behaviors, social representations of health and illness, communication in health, participation and empowerment of citizens with respect to decisions concerning health, development and evaluation of health promotion interventions.
Some more new perspectives are also growing; among these, Community Health Psychology and Occupational Health Psychology. During the last fifteen years, several social and community psychologists working on health issues have developed a body of research (e.g. on psychosocial and contextual influences on health and illness) and approaches to prevention and health promotion that are consistent with the Community health psychology approaches and its typical methodological approaches (e.g. participatory action research). Among the most interesting areas of research is health promotion in educational and school contexts, where a strong emphasis has been put not only on the promotion of individual competences and skills (e.g. associated with adequate health behaviors) but also on the development of school policies in order to enhance the construction of health promoting school environments.
Also a “critical” tradition of health psychology can be found in Italy, associated with the use of qualitative methods; many epistemological arguments and theoretical models typical of critical approaches have been widely discussed and adopted, even though less awareness seems to be present about the international developments of this area.
Research groups in health psychology are present in most Universities and within health services. Besides research contributions published in national and international journals, some textbooks have been produced by Italian health psychologists during the last two decades.