International Society of Critical Health Psychology

International Society of Critical Health Psychology

The International Society of Critical Health Psychology is a society devoted to debate about critical ideas within health psychology and developing new ways of health psychology practice.


In July 1999, the First International Conference on Critical and Qualitative Approaches to Health Psychology was held in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. Over 120 critical health psychologists from 20 countries and every continent on the globe attended the conference. It was agreed that there was an urgent need to establish a network to begin to connect those health psychologists throughout the world who were interested in developing a more critical approach to the subject.

In August 2001, the Second International Conference was held in Birmingham, UK. At this conference, it was decided to establish the International Society of Critical Health Psychology.


The society has three primary aims:
* To promote increased debate about critical ideas, qualitative and participatory research methods, and social, political and cultural issues within health psychology.
* To facilitate contact and collaboration between critical health psychologists.
* To promote the development of resources and training opportunities in critical health psychology.

Members of the society espouse a variety of theoretical and methodological viewpoints. However, as with other critical psychologists, they share a common dissatisfaction with the positivist assumptions of much of mainstream psychology and its ignorance of broader social and political issues. Instead, they share an interest in various critical ideas (e.g. social constructionism, post-modernism, feminism, marxism, etc.) and various qualitative and participatory methods of research (e.g. discourse analysis, grounded theory, action research, ethnography, etc.) and their relevance to understanding health and illness. Further, they share an awareness of the social, political and cultural dimensions of health and illness (e.g. poverty, racism, sexism, political oppression, etc.) and an active commitment to reducing human suffering and promoting improved quality of life, especially among those sections of society most in need.


The society has members throughout the world. In 2006 it had approximately 200 members in over 25 countries.


The society produces newsletter twice a year to keep members up to date on current critical health psychology activity. The first newsletter (February 2008) can be found on the 2009 Conference website (web address below).


The society organizes a biennial conference. These conferences have been held in St. John's, Newfoundland (1999), Birmingham, UK (2001), Auckland, New Zealand (2003), Sheffield, UK (2005) and the fifth will be held in Boston, USA in 2007.

The next conference is to be held at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland) from the 8th - 11th July 2009. Full details can be found on the conference website (web address below).


* [ Murray, M. (ed.) (2004). "Critical health psychology". Palgrave Macmillan.]

* [ Lyons, A., & Chamberlain, K. (2006). "Health psychology: A critical introduction". Cambridge University Press.]

* [ Marks, D.F., Murray, M., Evans, B., Willig, C., Woodall, C. & Sykes, C. (2005), Health Psychology. Theory, Research & Practice (2nd Ed.). London:Sage]

* [ Marks, D.F. (ed.) (2002), The Health Psychology Reader. London: Sage]

* [ Marks, D.F. (ed.) (1996 - ). Journal of Health Psychology]

External links

* [ 6th Biennial ISCHP Conference, Lausanne (Switzerland) 2009]
* [ 5th Biennial ISCHP Conference, Boston (USA) 2007]

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