Division Focus: Division 38 (Health Psychology)

By Cynthia D. Belar, PhD, Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida Health Science Center, President of Division 38

The Division of Health Psychology was established in 1978 to facilitate collaboration among psychologists and other health science and health care professionals interested in the psychological and behavioral aspects of health and illness. Division 38 supports the educational, scientific, and professional contributions of psychology to (a) understanding the etiology, promotion, and maintenance of health; (b) the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of illness; (c) the study of psychological, social, emotional, behavioral, and psychophysiological factors in health and illness; and (d) the improvement of the health care system and formulation of health care policy.

Health psychologists conduct research on the impact of behavior on health, as well as the influence of health and disease on psychological factors. The development of health habits and the prevention or reduction of unhealthy behaviors are explored. Investigators further knowledge in specific areas (e.g., psychoneuroimmunology and cardiovascular disease) and also on the impact of health policy and health service delivery on patient health and quality of life. Health psychologists work with specialists in family practice, neurology, orthopedics, cardiology, pediatrics, oncoogy, anesthesiology, immunology, dentistry, nursing, nutrition, rehabilitation, and other health care disciplines in both research and practice.

Purposes and Goals

The purposes of the Division of Health Psychology are to (a) advance contributions of psychology as a discipline to the understanding of health and illness through basic and clinical research and by encouraging the integration of biomedical information about health and illness with current psychological knowledge; (b) to promote education and services in the psychology of health and illness; and (c) to inform the psychological and biomedical community and the general public about the results of current research and service activities in this area.

Special Projects

Division 38 publishes a book series designed to acquaint the practicing clinician with the most current scientific knowledge on issues relevant to clinical practice. Books published to date focus on psychophysiological disorders and management of chronic illness. The Division is committed to the advancement of the empirical bases of practice in health care. Projects being initiated include empirically based practice guidelines and a student research award.


Health Psychology is a scholarly journal published by APA that disseminates scientific work examining psychological/behavioral and physical health/illness relationships. Published six times a year, Health Psychology includes empirical research and reviews on a variety of basic and applied aspects of health and behavior. Special issues and miniseries address topics on the cutting edge of health psychology (e.g., genetic counseling and minority health issues). Health Psychology is one of the most widely subscribed APA journals.

Health Psychologist is the Division newsletter. Published four times a year, this publication provides a forum for news, information and discussions relevant to research, clinical service, and training. Health Psychologist also includes regular contributions from the Division's special interest groups, covering topics such as women and health, children and health, aging, nursing and health psychology, sexuality and health, sleep research and practice, and hypnosis.


Division members receive Health Psychology and Health Psychologist as well as discounts on the book series. Membership categories include the following:

Member--Members, Associates, and Fellows of APA are eligible to join Division 38 at a reduced rate.
Affiliate--Psychologists, physicians, and professionals from related health disciplines can become affiliate members without belonging to APA. Dues for affiliates are approximately 20% more than for APA Members.
Student Member--Students in psychology, nursing, medicine, and related fields are eligible to become student members, whether or not they are student affiliates of APA. Dues for students are approximately 20% less than for regular members.

For information about joining Division 38, contact:

APA Division Services Office
750 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242
(202) 336-6013

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