Health Psychology


Course Objective

•You can explain what health psychology is;
•You have insight in and can explain the (historical and recent)
development of the field of health psychology;
•You can explain what tertiary prevention is;
•You understand and have insight into the fundamental elements of
coping, compliance, stigmatization, doctor-patient communication, self-
regulation and psychosomatic disorders. You can explain these before
mentioned topics in terms of theory and research;
•You have knowledge of intervention programs in health psychology
(tertiary prevention) in theory and practice;
•You have knowledge of research in health psychology.

•You are able to interpret and apply scientific literature in the field
of health psychology;
•You are able to develop a feasible Mhealth intervention plan (mobile
app aimed at tertiary prevention) based on intervention mapping steps 1-
4 with a specific focus on steps 3 and 4;
•You are able to pitch an idea for a theory-based health psychology
intervention (tertiary prevention) in order to bring in funding, in
under 10 minutes;
•You are able to pitch in English;
•You can write a short paper in English on the theory regarding a
predetermined theme and are able to reflect if and in what way the
reality of a guest lecturer (patient) is in accordance with this theory.

Course Content

This course, fits in the program of the specialization Prevention and
Public Health. Within this specialization you are trained to become a
health promoter who is able to work in a theory- & evidence-based way
and is able to link research, practice and policy.
The courses within this specialization are structured according to the
six steps of Intervention Mapping. These steps are: 1) Needs assessment,
2) Preparing matrices of change objectives, 3) Selecting theory-informed
intervention methods and practical applications, 4) Producing program
components and materials, 5) Planning program adoption, implementation,
and sustainability and 6) Planning for evaluation

The course Health Psychology will pay special attention to step 3 and 4
of Intervention Mapping with a focus on tertiary prevention.

Health Psychology refers to the psychological aspects of health, illness
and the health care system. In the current course ‘Health Psychology’,
six different subjects regarding tertiary prevention, which are relevant
in the field of Health Psychology, will be discussed. Psychological
aspects which are relevant in treatment of diseases and coping with
(chronic) diseases will be studied, as well as the way we can influence
these aspects. Questions to be studied will be for example ‘How can we
improve compliance of patients with diabetes?’, and ‘How can we improve
communication between health care workers and their patients?’, and ‘How
can we diminish stigmatization of HIV-patients?’. These and other
questions will be studied in six cases. In all cases, first underlying
determinants or psychological processes of the problems have to be
studied. Second, interventions to tackle the presented problems or
research into the different problems will be studied.

Teaching Methods

This course is rewarded with 6 ECTs. Health Psychology is a part-time
course, this means that 21 hours a week are necessary to pursuit the
goals of this course. Regular attendance during the weeks is mandatory.

Teaching activities include:
Lectures, tutorials, workgroups, patient guest lectures, pitch session.

During the course we use blackboard. Here you can find information, e.g.
lectures or alterations to the schedule et cetera.

Method of Assessment

In order to pass for the course you must:
1.Write a plan for the systematic development of an M-health
Intervention (mobile app aimed at tertiary prevention) in which you
briefly describe Intervention Mapping steps 1 and 2 and emphasize
Intervention Mapping steps 3 and 4. In addition you have to pitch your
elaborated intervention plan in order to bring in funding. You will
carry out this assignment in couples (pass mark is 5.5);
2.Hand in your PowerPoint slides (or other materials that you used for
the presentation);
3.Attend the three guest lectures by patients;
4.Hand in an individually written report about one of the guest
lecturers before the end of the course (pass mark is 5.5);
5.Pass the written exam (pass mark is 5.5).

The final mark for the course is being determined by:
•Assignment 1 consisting of the intervention plan and the corresponding
pitch (40%);
•The paper about the guest lecture (10%);
•The written exam (50%).

Entry Requirements

At the start of this course, we expect you to master knowledge, insight,
attitude and skills at a level which is comparable to the final
qualifications stated by the Bachelor Health Sciences at the VU.

Specific entry requirements are:
•Knowledge about Intervention Mapping Protocol
•Knowledge about primary and secondary prevention


The following book is required for students who follow the
specialization Prevention and Public Health:

Planning Health Promotion Programs: An Intervention Mapping Approach,
4rd Edition, by L. Kay Bartholomew, Guy S. Parcel, Gerjo Kok, Nell H.
Gottlieb, Maria E. Fernandez. March 2016, Hardcover (E-book also

Chapters which are applicable to the course Health Psychology will be
announced through BB.

Furthermore, we will use the following book during this course:
French, D., Vedhara, K., Kaptein, A.A., & Weinman, J. (2010). Health
Psychology. West Sussex: BPS Blackwell.

Other literature will be announced in the course manual.

Target Audience

Master students Health Sciences. All other students need approval of the
course coordinator and the examination committee of their own program.

Custom Course Registration

Registration for this course via VU-net.

Recommended background knowledge

The following course of the Master health sciences is strongly
recommended: ‘Health Promotion and Disease Prevention’.

General Information

Course Code AM_470730
Credits 6 EC
Period P2
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator B.A. van der Wende MSc
Examiner prof. dr. I.H.M. Steenhuis
Teaching Staff prof. dr. I.H.M. Steenhuis

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Lecture, Study Group
Target audiences

This course is also available as: