Aurélie Gauchet

Associate Professor in health Psychology
University Grenoble Alpes
Laboratoire Interuniversitaire de Psychologie
38041 Grenoble cedex
Tel : + 33 (0) 6 82 47 79 11

Health psychology has developed in France during the nineties. A network of researchers interested by this discipline emerged from encounters during the EHPS conferences, and has considerably grown through the 11th EHPS conference in Bordeaux.

The French Association of Health Psychology (AFPSA) was created in 2001, turning later into a French-speaking association.

AFPSA’s conferences are organized every 2 years.

The development of Health Psychology in France is clearly visible through the introduction of this discipline in the university curriculum (six universities offer a professional diploma in Health Psychology, an offer which will extend in the next years). Various disciplinary orientations are represented in these curriculums, and reflect the diversity of research interests in France.

France hosted one EHPS Conference, in Bordeaux (1997).

National Associations:

The French Health Psychology Association (Association Française de Psychologie de la Santé, AFPSa) was founded in 2001, and turned soon from a french association to a french-speaking one, with members from Canada, Belgium, Swiss, etc. Its activities are centered on the promotion of Health Psychology in France and French-speaking countries, and the development of a pluridiscuplinary approach of health through the collaboration with different psychological disciplines, prodessionals, and institutions. The AFPSa organizes biennal Conferences (Bordeaux, 2001; Metz, 2003; Aix-en Provence, 2005; Toulouse, 2007; Rennes, 2009) and annual encounters of doctoral students.

The AFPSa is associated to the EHPS and the SFP (Société Française de Psychologie – French Society for Psychology). Its website offers links to the EHPS, the SFP, and diverse professional and research associations, in France and abroad.

The last Conference for Health Psychology in France has taken place in Rennes in june 2009, entitled “Health Behaviors: Collective and individual risk factors”.

The symposia covered various issues, including ‘psycho-oncology’, ‘family, social environment and health’, ‘quality of life in adults and children’, ‘stress, coping and social support’, ‘addiction management’, ‘work and health’, ‘health psychology and sport’, ‘health and pain in adults and children’, ‘chronic illness’, ‘health promotion interventions’, ‘handicap and rehabilitation’ etc.

Several symposia were centered on theoretical and methodological issues, particularly important for the development of fundamental as well as applied research.

Education, training and professionalisation:

Health Psychology courses are not systematically offered by Universities during the first three years of the French curriculum in Psychology, where they are most often optional.

In France, Health Psychology is an mention of the Master in Psychology, which can be choosen after obtaining the first year of the Master Degree. This mention is generally included in a Master in Clinical Psychology, but it depends of the disciplinary approach of the Health Psychology mentions offered by the different Universities.

Currently, five universities deliver a Professional Master Degree in Health Psychology, with various approaches:

Aix-en-Provence: University of Provence – Aix – Marseille 1 (Social Psychology of Health)

Bordeaux: University Victor Segalen – Bordeaux 2

Metz: University Paul Verlaine

Rennes: University Haute Bretagne – Rennes 2 (Social and Community Health Psychology)

Toulouse: University Toulouse Le Mirail – Toulouse 2 (multidisciplinary)

A sixth Professional Master Degree in Health Psychology is to be opened in 2010-2011 at the University Paris Descartes (co-directed by University Paris Descartes and the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium).

About 120 psychologists obtain every year a Professional Master Degree in Health Psychology, allowing them to apply for jobs in health institutions and national health organizations.


Clinical Health Psychology is a traditional and productive research area in France, focusing mainly on : psychological and psycho-physiological mechanisms affecting health and well-being, quality of life, doctor-patient relationship, quality of health care.

Social Health Psychology is very dynamic, focusing on : psychosocial determinants of health and illness behaviors, social representations of health and illness, communication in health, development and evaluation of health promotion interventions, work and health.

Community Health Psychology is a recently developing approach, with specific interests towards the contextual influences on health and illness, prevention and health promotion, and public health policies. Specific methods, mainly participatory action research, are largely developped.