Choosing a Health Psychology Topic for Research

11 Ideas for Experiments, Papers, and Other Projects

Psychology paper. Credit: Image by Nic McPhee (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Health psychology, also known as medical psychology or behavioral medicine, focuses on how biology, psychology, behavior, and social factors influence health and well-being. It's a diverse and rich field worth exploring if you're studying to be a health professional and have an assignment that requires doing research or writing a paper.

Next time you're looking for a research topic for your studies and would like to focus on health psychology, consider the suggestions that follow.

These can be the inspiration for an experiment, a research paper, or any other type of class project. Before you begin, make sure the topic you're interested in is in keeping with the specific assignment. Even if your instructor doesn't require you to get approval for your intended topic, it's always a good idea to run it by him before you delve too deeply into your research.

And of course make sure you've chosen a subject that you know you'll be able to find appropriate sources for. You wouldn't want to commit to a project only to find that there's not enough existing information to work with. Again, input from your instructor can prevent you from wasting time on a topic that offers little to go on.

EXERCISE AND EATING BEHAVIOR TOPICS

  • Explore some of the psychological strategies that can help people stick to a diet and exercise program. Is there any one strategy that is more effective than others?
  • Analyze how media depictions of "ideal" bodies influence anorexia and bulimia. Is there a link between exposure to these images and eating disorders?

FAMILY HEALTH AND SAFETY TOPICS

  • Explore how increased public awareness of infant safety, such as placing an infant on his back to sleep, removing pillows and other objects from the sleeping area, etc., have influenced the occurrence of SIDS or "crib death." Has the number of SIDS-related deaths gone down? Why do some parents ignore these sleep safety guidelines?
  • Assess current approaches to childhood immunizations. Why do some parents choose not to immunize their children? How does this impact public health? What can health professionals do to increase the likelihood that kids are immunized?
  • Explore the factors that contribute to teen suicide. How effective are suicide prevention programs?
  • Look at the emotional, social and psychological impact of care-giving, such as taking care of an aging parent, a family member with AIDS or a spouse suffering from Alzheimer's.

PUBLIC HEALTH TOPICS

  • What can mental health and medical professionals do to help people cope in the immediate aftermath of a disaster? Are there any strategies that result in better long-term outcomes?
  • Research the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veterans. What factors contribute to whether an individual experiences PTSD? What mental health interventions are most effective at treating this disorder?
  • Evaluate how stress management techniques and relaxation methods can help patients suffering from chronic pain. How effective are these tactics? How do they compare to traditional pharmacological approaches to pain management?
  • Compare and contrast different approaches to smoking cessation. Which strategies are the most effective?
  • Look at different techniques that can be used to increase the likelihood that people will use safety equipment such as seat belts and bicycle helmets. What type of public safety program would you devise to encourage the use of these products?

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