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8 - Treating illness

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2012

Antonia C. Lyons
Affiliation:
Massey University, Auckland
Kerry Chamberlain
Affiliation:
Massey University, Auckland
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Summary

World travellers who have had to see a doctor in a foreign country have usually discovered that medicine is not quite the international science that medicine would like us to believe. Not only do ways of delivering medical care differ from country to country; so does the medicine that is delivered. The differences are so great that one country's treatment of choice may be considered malpractice across the border … Often, all one must do to acquire a disease is to enter a country where that disease is recognised – leaving the country will either cure the malady or turn it into something else.

(Payer, 1989, pp. 24–5)

Learning objectives

The aim of this chapter is to consider research relating to various forms of treatment for illness, and issues which are important in treating illness. By the end of this chapter you should be able to:

  • provide an overview of the different forms of treatment for illness;

  • outline the different sectors of health care and their approaches to treatment;

  • discuss the research on self-treatment for minor illnesses;

  • describe the reasons that people give for seeking treatment from health professionals;

  • review the psychological issues in treatment for serious acute illness in hospital;

  • discuss the psychological factors involved in self-care for chronic illness;

  • discuss the issues involved in non-conventional treatment;

  • explain the different approaches to and meanings of adherence;

  • discuss the nature of the placebo effect;

  • comment critically on who receives treatment and structural issues affecting access to treatment;

  • outline the changing nature of treatment.

Type
Chapter
Information
Health Psychology
A Critical Introduction
, pp. 241 - 278
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2006

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References

Edelmann, R. J. (2000). Psychosocial aspects of the health care process. Harlow, UK: Prentice Hall. This book contains several chapters on seeking and receiving care and adhering to treatment, and develops many of the issues covered in this chapter in more detail.Google Scholar
Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, vol. 70, issue 3. This special issue of the journal provides a review of the field of behavioural medicine and clinical health psychology across the previous decade. The articles review developments and research findings in relation to several specific diseases, and cover treatment issues for many.
Ogden, J. (2004). Health psychology: a textbook (3rd edn). Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press. A chapter in this text provides a detailed treatment of placebos and their role in health and illness.Google Scholar
Payer, L. (1989). Medicine and culture. London: Victor Gollancz. Although an older book, this provides an excellent account of the way in which allopathic treatment is culturally located, even with the focus limited to four countries, Britain, the USA, France and Germany. Written as a popular text, it is highly recommended.Google Scholar

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