Teaching Health Psychology: How is it Taught and What Do Health Psychologists Need for Their Pedagogical Practice?

The Education & Training Council is proud to announce The Teaching of Undergraduate Health Psychology: A National Survey (2017) published in the peer-reviewed journal Teaching of Psychology (Vol. 44 issue 3). The survey was sponsored by the E & T Council and authored by CUNY doctoral student Aliza Panjwani, a member of the SfHP Student and E & T Councils, Regan A. R. Gurung, former E & T Chair, and past-President and Nathan Perry Award winner Tracey A. Revenson. The publication can be found at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0098628317712786.

The publication reports the findings of an online survey conducted in 2016 to collect information on course design, content, and teaching tools in a national survey of 126 instructors. Instructors reflected on the essential topics to be taught, what is “missing” from health psychology textbooks, and the types of resources that would prove helpful.

Of the diverse subject matter encompassed within the field of health psychology, instructors considered the topics of chronic illness, stress and coping, health behavior change, and health disparities to be the most essential to teach undergraduates.

In terms of teaching resources, the vast majority of instructors used a textbook, but approximately 30% reported a need for more textbook content on health disparities. Over 40% of instructors reported a need for digital content (e.g., videos, podcasts) as well as class activities and demonstrations. In contrast, only 7% reported a need for exam questions and PowerPoint slides, what textbook publishers usually provide as accompanying materials.

Nearly 70% of U.S. psychology departments offer a course in health psychology (Norcross et al., 2016). Health psychology is featured in recent introductory psychology textbooks (e.g., Griggs, 2014) and rated as one of the most important and interesting topics covered in introductory psychology (McCann, Immel, Kadah-Ammeter, & Adelson, 2016), a course taken by approximately 1.5 million students a year (Gurung et al., 2016).

The Education & Training Council is making this publication and other teaching resources  (i.e., sample syllabi and teaching activities) available on the SfHP website by the end of 2017.



Griggs, R. A. (2014). Topical coverage in introductory textbooks from the 1980s through the 2000s. Teaching of Psychology, 41, 5-10.

Gurung, R. A. R., Hackathorn, J., Enns, C., Frantz, S., Cacioppo, J. T., Loop, T., & Freeman, J. E. (2016). Strengthening introductory psychology: A new model for teaching the introductory course. American Psychologist, 71, 112-124.

Gurung, R. A. R., & Rittenhouse, E. (2015). Teaching health psychology. In D. S. Dunn (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Teaching of Psychology (pp. 509-517). New York: Oxford University Press.

McCann, L. I., Immel, K. R., Kadah-Ammeter, T. L., & Adelson, S. K. (2016). The Importance and Interest of Introductory Psychology Textbook Topics: Student Opinions at Technical College, 2-, and 4-Year Institutions. Teaching of Psychology, 43, 215–220. http://doi.org/10.1177/0098628316649477.

Norcross, J. C., Hailstorks, R., Aiken, L. S., Pfund, R. A., Stamm, K. E., & Christidis, P. (2016). Undergraduate study in psychology: Curriculum and assessment. American Psychologist, 71(2), 89-101.