Health Psychology Research

Health psychology focuses on the links between psychological and physical health. It can focus on how diseases impact people psychologically, how psychological processes impact disease, or how psychological principles can improve health behavior.  

About Health Psychology Research

Our health psychology faculty are internationally recognized for their contributions related to health psychology, on a wide range of topics such as cardiovascular health, obesity, psychological and physiological responses to stress and chronic illness, cardiovascular health, weight stigma, and health promotion.

Faculty and students often work in collaboration with one another or with researchers at major medical centers in Cleveland and Akron. We publish actively and in top journals and you will see that our graduate students, and sometimes our undergraduates, are co-authors and lead authors in these publications.  Perhaps our most central value is conducting and publishing research that "matters" and advances the knowledge base that is necessary for improving people's lives.

More About The Program

Research Training

Students can gain experience related to health psychology in either the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. or the Psychological Ph.D. training programs. Students interested in conducting basic and applied research in health psychology, but do not desire clinical training, enroll in our Psychological Sciences Ph.D. program in the Social-Health track. Students interested in gaining clinical training in health psychology enroll in our Clinical Ph.D. Program.  

Graduate Courses In Health Psychology
  • Psychosocial Aspects of Health
  • Psychobiological Aspects of Health
  • Health Behavior and Health Behavior Change
  • Pediatric Psychology
  • Psychology of Risk Communication
  • Functional Neuroanatomy
  • Psychopharmacology
Core Faculty

Dr. John Gunstad - The neuropsychology of chronic disease, with a particular interest in cardiovascular disease and obesity.

Dr. Mary Himmelstein - Weight stigma; masculinity; impacts of intersectional identities on stress and coping in response to social stigma (weight stigma) and gender norms (masculinity).

Dr. Joel Hughes - The role of psychological and social factors in cardiovascular health and disease.

Dr. William Lechner - The effects of neurocognitive deficits and psychopathology in addiction.

Dr. Amy Sato - Child-health psychology; Obesity in children and adolescents, including the role of stress and the impact of family-level influences on the development and treatment of pediatric obesity.

Dr. Mary Beth Spitznagel - Clinical neuropsychology, caregiver burden, and the cognitive impact of obesity, diet, and exercise.

Dr. Jennifer Taber - Effective interventions and health communications to increase health behavior performance; behavioral and psychosocial aspects of genetic and genomic testing; risk perceptions and risk communications.

Dr. John Updegraff - Health communication and health behavior; applications of social psychological theory to health behavior.

Faculty With Related Interests

Dr. Jeffrey A. Ciesla - Physical health correlates and consequences of depression, such as sleep and sexual difficulties.

Dr. Karin Coifman studies emotion processing and the development of psychopathology in the context of acute stress and chronic illness.