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World Health Day, April 7, 2014 : Take control of your health!

6 Apr 2014

On the occasion of World Health Day on April 7, the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations EFPA highlights the role of behaviour for health.

“In times when the finances of our health systems are under pressure due to unnecessary use of medical interventions, it is important to look into more cost – effective measures to improve health, such as our own behaviour!” says Koen Lowet, Belgian member of the EFPA Standing Committee Psychology and Health.

On April 7, the World Health Organisation celebrates World Health Day, directing global attention to the broader domains of health. EFPA, the European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations, takes the opportunity to urge governments and policy makers to consider more use of psychological knowledge in the health domain. 'Europe faces enormous challenges for its health care systems,' explains Koen Lowet of the Belgian Federation of Psychologists, 'due to the fact that we are living longer and, therefore, are more likely to develop age-related conditions. Unfortunately, we tend to give more attention to costly treatment procedures instead of looking into more cost –effective prevention measures such as promoting our own health-enhancing behaviours.'

Indeed, research during the past two decades has clearly shown that physical and mental health is greatly influenced by behaviour, for example smoking, drinking alcohol, physical activity, eating, having sufficient sleep, rest and relaxation, making use of health care provisions or practising hygiene and self – care.

'These are all specific health-related behaviours and behaviour is the domain for which psychologists are the experts.' states Lowet. 'We can make a real difference in helping people change behaviours and attitudes that compromise health and replace them with health – enhancing behaviours. Unfortunately, we notice that today, despite the massive challenges we face here in Europe, we still do not invest enough resources to make people aware that they themselves can play a decisive role in taking control of their own health and of others! We could achieve this by translating empirical evidence that comes out of psychological research into health care practice and giving health psychologists a superior role in our health care systems.'

The EFPA Board of Prevention and Intervention also warmly welcomes World Health Day and fully endorses its aims. 'Over the coming months we will be working alongside others to show how we can use the tools of implementation science to translate research findings in psychology on effective interventions into ways to improve the wellbeing of our populations' states Tony Wainwright from the EFPA Board Prevention and Intervention. 

For more information about this press release, please contact Pauline Adair – chair of the EFPA Standing committee Psychology and Health at pauline.adair(at)strath.ac.uk or Tony Wainwright – from the EFPA Board of Prevention an Intervention by mail: t.w.wainwright(at)exeter.ac.uk)

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