Health Psychology


Course Objective

• You have insight into the fundamental elements of coping and can
explain this topic in terms of theory and research.
• You have insight into the fundamental elements of self-management and
can explain this topic in terms of theory and research.
• You have insight into the fundamental elements of adherence and can
explain this topic in terms of theory and research.
• You have insight into the fundamental elements of relapse and can
explain this topic in terms of theory and research.
• You have insight into the fundamental elements of hospitalization and
stressful medical procedures and can explain this topic in terms of
theory and research.
• You have insight into the fundamental elements of doctor-patient
communication and can explain this topic in terms of theory and
• You have insight into the fundamental elements of health literacy and
can explain this topic in terms of theory and research.

• You are able to develop a feasible Mhealth intervention plan (tertiary
prevention) based on intervention mapping steps 3 and 4; you can also
apply intervention mapping step 2.
• You are able to pitch an idea for a theory-based health psychology
intervention (tertiary prevention) in under 6 minutes 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.
• You are able to search for literature through e.g. PubMed, Web of
Knowledge, Science Direct, Google Scholar and you can interpret and
apply scientific literature in the field of health psychology.

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.

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?’. 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.

During the course ‘Health Psychology’ you will obtain knowledge and
understanding of:
1. Coping with diseases;
2. Self-management interventions in chronic illness;
3. Adherence to advice and treatment
4. Relapse in health related behavior among patients
5. Hospitalization and stressful medical procedures
6. Communication processes between health care workers and their
7. Health Literacy

The course is built around these topics and every week of the course one
topic will be discussed and studied during two seminars. In preparation
for the seminars, literature has to be studied. The seminars consist of
a lecture (45 minutes), and interactive group exercises (45 minutes).

In addition to the seminars, you will fulfill two assignments:
The objective of the first assignment is to apply gained knowledge
regarding Intervention Mapping steps 3 and 4 (and already available
knowledge about step 2) to create a plan for a Mhealth (mobile health
application) intervention regarding tertiary prevention. The objective
of the second assignment is to get insight into the link between theory
and practice. You will link theory to personal experiences of patients
who suffer from chronic disease.

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
describe Intervention Mapping step 2 and highlight 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;
2. Hand in your PowerPoint slides (or other materials that you used for
the presentation);
3. Attend the guest lectures by patients;
4. Hand in an individually written report about one of the guest
lecturers before the end of the course;
5. Pass the written exam.

The pass mark for the Mhealth intervention plan and the pitch is 5.5;
The pass mark for the paper about the guest lecture is sufficient;
The pass mark for the exam is 5.5.

The final mark for the course is being determined by:
• Assignment 1 consisting of the intervention plan and the corresponding
pitch (in total 50% (80% for the intervention plan and 20% for the
• the written exam (50%) (consisting of open questions).

The assignments must be handed in at the end of the course. Information
regarding the resit of the exam or the assignments will be announced
later through Canvas.

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.


The following book is required for students who follow the
specialization Prevention and Public Health:
- Bartholomew Eldredge, Parcel, Kok, Gottlieb, Fernandez (eds) Planning
health promotion programs: an intervention mapping approach; fourth
edition (2016). Jossey-Bass, San Fransisco. ISBN: 978-1-119-03549-7
(E-book also available)

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, such as articles, will be announced on Canvas.

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 to follow simultaneously: ‘Health Promotion and Disease

General Information

Course Code AM_470730
Credits 6 EC
Period P2
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator J.J.R. van Roon 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: