Division of Health Psychology: Annual Review 2011

2011 was a special year for the Division of Health Psychology, as it marked the 25th anniversary of Health Psychology in the BPS, having started out as the Health Psychology Section in December 1986, become a Special Group in 1992 and finally a Division in 1998.

To mark our anniversary, we had a Silver Jubilee theme at our Annual Conference in Southampton in September, with a special Jubilee keynote, and a light-hearted celebration of some of the highlights for Health Psychology over the past 25 years. The conference was a great success, with an excellent scientific programme, and attracted a record number of delegates. To build on this success, a new Conference subcommittee has been convened, together with a standing conference scientific committee, with the aim of attracting more international delegates and pushing the scientific content of the DHP conference to an even higher level of excellence.

Throughout the year, the Division has also been working on the maintenance and enhancement of standards of training and together with colleagues in the DHPTC and HPQB addressing the emerging issue of non-doctoral training in health psychology. This has arisen as a result of an ambiguity in the threshold statement for entry on to the practitioner psychologist part of the HPC register. The Division has written to the HPC with a proposed solution.

The December 2011 edition of the Psychologist carried a number of short articles showcasing the varied work of Health Psychologists, commissioned from our members and put together by members of the DHP Publicity and Liaison subcommittee. Other activities to promote and publicise health psychology and the DHP included a symposium given at the BPS 2011 Annual Conference in Glasgow, a presentation given at the London and Home Counties Branch “Psychology for All” event for the public in March 2011, the publication of “What is Health Psychology” in the Psychology Review, the updating of our “What is Health Psychology” powerpoint presentation and the development of a DHP leaflet for GPs. 

As in previous years, we have enjoyed good relationships with the other BPS Divisions, and were happy to participate in a cross-Divisional debate about closer working organised by the Division of Counselling Psychology at their Annual conference in Bristol in July. On an international level, we continue to send delegates to and actively participate in the European Health Psychology Society and the European Federation of Psychologists Associations.

One our strategic aims for 2011 was to enhance the influence of Health Psychology particularly with policy makers. Following the change of government, the longstanding and successful DHP consultancy with the Department of Health unfortunately came to an end. However, DHP members were active in providing input to policy making via a number of other channels. Several members of the DHP were involved in the setting up of a cross-divisional Behaviour Change Working Party, which has produced a position paper on how best to influence policy and convened a panel of experts in Behaviour Change.

Following on from the involvement of DHP members  in the House of Lords Behaviour Change Inquiry, reported in last year’s Annual report,  the DHP was represented at a meeting with the government’s Behavioural Insight Team in February. We also contributed to a number of other important consultations, including the consultation on the Public Health white paper and the NHS Listening Exercise. 

The DHP has continued to provide a range of benefits and opportunities for its members. The CPD subcommittee put on a number of successful events, including a workshop on writing successful grant applications and one on working with qualitative data from the internet. The CPD subcommittee worked with the HPC to develop templates to enable health psychologists working in different settings to report on their CPD activities.

The Postgraduate subcommittee held another successful Annual workshop at City University and an awareness raising session at the University of Greenwich. The DHP awards for research and outstanding contribution to Health Psychology were made for the second time, we awarded a small grant for public engagement work for the first time, and a new early career award was introduced. The Research subcommittee introduced a buddy scheme to match up practitioners and academics who might want to work together. 

Finally, two of the founding members of the DHP, Professors Marie Johnston and John Weinman were elected as Honorary Fellows of the BPS during 2011, joining a roll-call of distinguished psychologists. 

Professor Alison Wearden, Chair 2010-2011
Dr Neil Coulson, Chair 2011-2012