Health psychology, developed in the late 1970s, is its own domain of inquiry. Also called a medical psychologist, the health psychologist helps individuals explore the link between emotions and physical health. The health psychologist also helps physicians and medical professionals understand the emotional effects of a patient’s illness or disease. They practice in the areas of chronic pain management, oncology, physical rehabilitation, addiction treatment, eating disorders, and others. This professional can be found in clinics, hospitals, private practice, and public health agencies. Some also work in corporate settings to promote health and wellness among employees, engaging in workplace policies and decision-making.
Genetics, or inherited traits from parents, also play a role in determining the health status of individuals and populations. This can encompass both the predisposition to certain diseases and health conditions, as well as the habits and behaviors individuals develop through the lifestyle of their families. For example, genetics may play a role in the manner in which people cope with stress, either mental, emotional or physical. For example, obesity is a significant problem in the United States that contributes to bad mental health and causes stress in the lives of great numbers of people. (One difficulty is the issue raised by the debate over the relative strengths of genetics and other factors; interactions between genetics and environment may be of particular importance.)
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