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Using the theory of scientific revolutions (Kuhn, 1962) this talk introduces the achievements and current burning issues in the area of health psychology: our ‘normal science’, emerging anomalies, crisis in the research and call for a new paradigm, as well as scientific revolutions required. Health psychology id doing well accumulating evidence for interventions changing health outcomes, clarifying new constructs and mechanisms through which they operate influencing health, and identifying behavior change techniques. However, recent systematic reviews and meta-analyses raised many doubts. In particular, the effects obtained in psychosocial health promotion interventions may be very small. So small, that they do not translate into more life years which are of high quality. Furthermore, interventions result in non-significant effects when long-term follow-ups are carefully investigated. Increasing the number of the intervention components does not translate into larger effects (and sometimes translates into smaller effects). As anomalies accumulate, researchers try to tackle them with refocusing their studies by the use of implicit processes-based techniques in health promotion interventions or they redefine health as results of dyadic (rather than individual) processes. The revolution, however, requires a paradigm shift. This lecture proposes that such a shift could be made if besides traditional focus on psychosocial theories to develop health promoting intervention we use implementation theories and identify crucial implementation conditions which may be responsible for the effect of these interventions. For example, strategies used to reach the target population, secure the choice of most effective implementation strategies, adopt the intervention by target staff and organization, secure low costs, high consistency, and long-term maintenance of interventions may be as relevant as psychosocial theory-based mechanisms and intervention components.
About the speaker:
Prof. dr hab. Aleksandra Łuszczyńska – researcher in the field of health psychology and clinical psychology. She is interested in determinants of health, such as diet, physical activity, and risky behaviors, as well as factors improving quality of life for people who experienced traumatic life events or suffer from a chronic illness. She teaches health psychology, at SWPS University in Wrocław.
The lecture is a part of the series “The Challenges to the Humanities in the 21st Century”, organized by SWPS University Interdisciplinary Doctoral Studies Program.