EHPS National Delegate
Support the EHPS to deliver its aim of helping individuals, families, and societies to better cope with life challenges related to illness and health, by promoting rigorous science, health promotion interventions, and close collaborations.
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Health psychology developed in Italy during the eighties and the Italian society of health psychology (SIPSA) was funded in 1997.
Even if its “official” birth is recent and it can be considered still a “young” discipline as compared with European and north American HP, a specific “Italian” experience of health psychology can be identified, and its roots can be traced back both to scientific/academic developments occurred in previous decades (medical psychology and psychosomatic medicine) and to the organization of health services (the introduction of the National Health Service in 1978).
Over the last decades Italian Health Psychology has grown and expanded steadily and several research groups are now active, representing a range of theoretical approaches.
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, caregiving experience, 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 and a specific attention to socio-economic and cultural factors; many epistemological arguments and theoretical models typical of critical approaches have been widely discussed and adopted.
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 decades.
Italian society of health psychology (SIPSA)
At the moment there are many master degree courses in Clinical and Health Psychology and four schools of specialization in Health Psychology. The access to these schools is possible after obtaining the degree in Psychology. About 150 psychologists are currently receiving their five-year training in Health Psychology, after which they can register as psychotherapists.