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Health Psychology

Health Psychology

Our Approach

The Health Psychology Research Group is concerned with the application of psychological theory, methods and treatment to the understanding and promotion of physical health. Our perspective is based on the biopsychosocial model which posits that biological, psychological and social processes are integrally and interactively involved in physical health and illness. This initially provocative premise has fueled major advances in psychology, medicine, nursing and public health over the past twenty-five years.

Consistent with our philosophy, research in health psychology emphasizes the integration of knowledge about biological, psychological and social factors. The biopsychosocial perspective also is reflected in both the content and methods used in our research programs. Research is facilitated by the health area faculty's numerous long-standing collaborations with medical practitioners and researchers at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics, one of the largest training hospitals in the nation. Availability of medical populations and state-of-the art medical technologies affords a unique opportunity for the student who wishes to pursue research in health psychology.  

Specialized graduate training in health psychology can be pursued through either our Clinical Science or Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience graduate training areas. Graduate student applicants with interests in health psychology should first identify one or more potential mentors listed on this page. Applicants are then encouraged to contact these specific faculty for further information on how to apply.

Our Research

Each member of the Health Psychology research group has a distinctive research program, but there also are many shared interests and extensive exchanges affording the possibility of consultation and research collaboration. The content areas of research strength and focus include:

  • Stress and illness
  • Cardiovascular psychophysiology & pathophysiology
  • Psychoneuroimmunology
  • Patient adherence to medical regimens
  • Responses to organ transplantation
  • Medical treatment-seeking
  • Animal models of hypertension and heart failure
  • Postpartum depression
  • Gender disparities in health care
  • Women's health issues


Faculty in HP

  • Alan Christensen

    Alan Christensen

    Professor, Collegiate Fellow

    Clinical health psychology, Adjustment to chronic illness, Medical regimen adherence, Patient-provider interaction, Health services research, Personality and health

  • Alan Kim Johnson

    Alan Kim Johnson

    F. Wendell Miller Distinguished Professor

    Neural control of body fluid and cardiovascular homeostasis in health and disease

  • Ryan LaLumiere

    Ryan LaLumiere

    Associate Professor

    Neurobiology of learning and memory; Neurobiology of addiction

  • Michael O'Hara

    Michael O'Hara

    Professor, Starch Faculty Fellow

    Postpartum and pregnancy depression; Psychotherapy for depression particularly in the postpartum period; Impact of maternal depression on children; Mental health services research; Women's reproductive health

  • Jason Radley

    Jason Radley

    Associate Professor

    Stress neurobiology; neural control of adaptive responses to stress; chronic stress-induced structural plasticity in cortical systems

  • Michelle Voss

    Michelle Voss

    Assistant Professor

    Cognitive aging, exercise neuroscience, learning and memory