A new public health psychology to mend the chasm between public health and clinical care.

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8 Scopus citations


Emerging global health challenges and ever-growing health disparities indicate a need to improve the manner by which we deliver health prevention and health care services to people and the populations in which they are nested. One means of addressing the physical, psychological, and social health of people is to more fully and intelligently integrate the social and structural deterministic perspectives of health inherent in public health efforts with the individualistic and behavioral focus of medicine. This integration of public health with clinical care is predicated on the notion that people are burdened by socially produced psychological states that undermine their health. To date, neither public health nor clinical care has effectively attended to psychosocial conditions such as fear, loneliness, medical mistrust, powerlessness, and stigma, all of which fuel disease. Psychological principles provide the means of coalescing the efforts of public health with clinical care by addressing these very psychosocial stressors that undermine health and perpetuate disease. In this regard, there is a need to reorient the discipline of public health psychology. Such a conceptualization of health and well-being provides a framework to both identify and intervene on these conditions. Public health psychologists should collaborate directly with both public health experts and clinical providers to develop tools which effectively ameliorate the psychosocial drivers of disease. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved) <strong xmlns:lang="en">Public Significance Statement—Neither clinical care nor public health fully attend to the psychosocial stressors, such as fear, stigma, and medical mistrust, that perpetuate disease and undermine health in people and populations. To address this shortcoming, a new framing for public health psychology is provided. By attending to these psychosocial stressors and developing programming to address the burdens, public health psychology can fill the gap that is too often neglected by clinical care and public health in enhancing health and well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1289-1296
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number9
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)


  • clinical care
  • disease
  • psychosocial burdens
  • public health
  • public health psychology


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