PSYC 314 (3 cr): Health Psychology

PSYC 314

Course Outline

Course Description

Psychology 314 (PSYC 314) provides a general introduction to the psychology of health. Topics covered include research methods in health psychology, health behaviour, stress, coping, social support, patient-practitioner relations, pain and pain behaviour, and the role of psychological and social factors in the etiology and course of chronic and terminal illness.

Intended Audience

Psychology 314 is an upper-division undergraduate course offered for degree credit within the Faculty of Arts. Because the course focuses on the role of psychological and social factor in health, it should also be of interest to students in other disciplines such as nursing, physical rehabilitation, medicine and pre-medicine, sociology, and public health.

Learning Outcomes

Psychology 314 is designed to help you combine scientific, theoretical, and personal avenues of inquiry to understand issues and evidence about the role of psychological factors in health. After completing the course, you will should be able to:

  1. understand the difficulties inherent in conducting psychological research on health and illness;
  2. critically evaluate the merit of studies presented to you in the media of the role of psychological, social, and behavioral factors in health and illness;
  3. understand various pathways through which your cognitions and behaviors, as well as the cognitions and behaviors of those around you, influence your health and illness; and
  4. understand why we engage in problematic health behaviours such as smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol to excess, eating poorly, what we can do to change those behaviours, and what the health costs are if we do not change our poor health behaviors.

Course Overview

This course has been designed to give you exposure to the broad range of topics studied by health psychologists. There are eight Units in this course.

Unit 1 provides you with a basic introduction to the field of health psychology, a historical overview of the way the relationship between the mind and the body has been perceived over time since antiquity, and the relationship of health psychology to other, overlapping, disciplines. It also provides you with a basic introduction to research methods used in health psychology.

Unit 2 discusses stress, what it is, how to measure it, and its effects on the mind and the body.

In Unit 3 you will learn about moderators of the stress experience. That is, factors such as coping and social support that can prevent or diminish the potentially negative effects of stress.

Unit 4 discusses health behaviors, both in terms of theory and in terms of health-enhancing behaviors such as exercise.

Unit 5 focusses on health-compromising behaviors, such as excessive alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking, describing theoretical models to explain these behaviors, and methods of treatment.

Unit 6 discusses factors associated with seeking treatment for illness symptoms, and factors associated with following the advice of health professionals.

Unit 7 examines pain and its management, as well as the management of chronic and terminal illness.

Unit 8 examines the role of psychological factors in chronic conditions, such as cancer, coronary heart disease, and AIDS and examines the future of health psychology.

Assignments and Grading

To receive credit for Psychology 314 you must complete the three course assignments and pass the final exam with a mark of 50% or higher.

Course Assignments

There are three graded assignments in Psychology 314 to be completed at the end of Unit 3, 4, and 5, respectively. A description of the applicable assignments include a variety of information, application and thought questions that require you to demonstrate mastery and understanding of course content. The assignments should be completed in order as information needed to complete them is cumulative throughout the course.

Final Examination

You must pass the final examination with a minimum grade of 50% to receive credit for this course. The final examination is based on the textbook. The final exam consists of 100 multiple choice items equally representing all chapters in the textbook.

Grade Breakdown

Assignment marks will constitute 50% of your grade for this course. The final exam mark will account for the remaining 50% of your grade in the course.

The course grade will be determined as follows:

Assignment 1 5%
Assignment 2 15%
Assignment 3 30%
Final Examination: 50%
Total 100%

Learning Resources

The materials for this course consist of the PSYC 314 website (which contains the course author’s commentary, reading instructions, website activities, and assignments) and a textbook.


Taylor, S. E. (2010). Health Psychology (1st Canadian Edition), packaged with istudy e-text. McGraw-Hill Ryerson. [please refer to Textbook Order Form below]

The textbook was chosen with distance education students in mind. It covers a broad array of topics related to health psychology. Dr. Shelley Taylor, the author of your textbook, is a leading scholar and researcher in the field of health psychology. The textbook can be purchased at the UBC Bookstore.

PSYC314 Textbook Order Form

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