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Psych and Infectious Disease

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by yikes, Apr 25, 2007.

  1. yikes

    7+ Year Member

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    Hi,
    anyone studying an overlap between psychology and infectious disease or know anyone who is?
    thanks.
     
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  3. Lunabin

    Lunabin New Member
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    This is pretty general/vague - I know there's a huge body of literature for example on treating depression in HIV; there's tons of neuropsych. with various nervous system diseases; etc.

    Do you have something specific in mind? Have you run a lit search?
     
  4. RayneeDeigh

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    I've always hoped to run into someone who studied this, but no such luck. The closest I've heard is that MSF (doctors without borders) hires Psychologists to do work in countries that are dealing with infectious epidemics.

    I just finished a course in infectious disease though, and it would definitely be a fun thing to build a career around.

    Sorry I can't be more help!
     
  5. yikes

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    I don't have anything specific in mind, i was hoping any one doing anything remotely related would chime in.
     
  6. Ollie123

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    Tons of people do HIV work. Just look through faculty listings at schools. You'll find someone.

    If you're willing to approach it from a roundabout fashion you could incorporate it into other kinds of research - substance abusers for example. Chronic poor health/diet of alcoholics may weaken their immune systems and make them more susceptible to infection.

    Lots of stuff related to sexual health in general. I'm sure if you wanted to hop on board with a cancer researcher, they'd love to have you do some work with the new HPV vaccine and people's attitudes towards it, sexual health, preventing infection with HPV, as long as you tie it all in to cervical cancer risk.

    There's also the disaster management route. How people would respond to biological threats, barriers to care, etc. This could easily be tied in to infectious disease.

    There's plenty of ways to make it work, I'd look into some of those options if its what you're looking for...I guarantee you will find tons of people researching all those topics. Even if you don't find someone researching a specific disease you are interested in, you can probably find someone doing similar work that would translate over well.

    As a side note: Working in an ADHD clinic for the past year has me convinced that ADHD is in fact, an infectious disease.
     
  7. amy203

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    I'm working on a paper on this topic right now! It's a prospective study on the relationship between mental and physical health problems in high-risk adolescents. One of the types of health problems we are focusing on is infectious diseases. There is a well-established link between depression and changes in cellular immunity, which may lead to an increase in viral and bacterial infections, as well as more severe symptoms of allergies and asthma. This is a good article if you're interested:

    Herbert, T. B., Cohen, S. (1993). Depression and immunity: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 113(3), 472-486.
     
  8. danzgymn86

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    I agree with whoever mentioned HIV/AIDS research as it relates to Psych. A lot of schools do this. The AIDS/HIV thing is hugeee at my school...I wish I was interested in it!
     
  9. yikes

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    thanks everyone, you all had good input. now to add to my question, what about infectious disease in an international sense? obviously AIDS is a problem everywhere, but anyone working on anything else. I've done lit searches and found people working on this sort of thing, but I'd love to hear from anyone actually working on it now to see what it's really like.
    thanks!
     
  10. amy203

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    Both of my bosses work in this area, although not so much on an international level. This type of research usually focuses on 4 areas:

    1) The direct impact of mental illness on physical illness (i.e. depression's impact on cellular immunity, alcoholismÂ’s impact on liver functioning)

    2) The impact of mental illness on health related behaviors. This can include poor self-care (poor hygiene, eating habits, etc), but also an increase in risky behaviors such as smoking, drug use, unsafe sex, reckless driving etc.

    3) Access to care issues. There are a lot of issues surrounding why and how people access medical care, and the barriers they may encounter.

    4) Maintenance issues. Once a person accesses care and receives a diagnosis, do they follow their doctors recommendation (diet, exercise, medication regimens, etc).

    Most of the researchers in this area come from a public health perspective - so heavy on statistics and population level research. I think there are some clinical psyc programs (USC?) that let you get your MPH along with your PhD. You might want to look into that...

    I've enjoyed studying health psychology for the past two years, but I'm not planning on focusing on it long term. Lots of people love it though - it's a pretty amazing way to have an impact on the world. It's usually interdisciplinary research, so you'd be working with MDs and MPHs along with psychologists. Also, it's a rapidly growing field that is well-funded.

    Have you checked out the behavioral medicine and health psychology track at UCSD/SDSU?
     
  11. yikes

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    thanks for that post. i definitely want to apply to the sdsu/ucsd program. a bit more about where i'm coming from: i am interested in public health but it seems like you could get a lot more done with a clinical health psych phd than an mph or even a phd in public health because you would have access to patients and know better intervention methods. anyone have thoughts on this?
     
  12. Ollie123

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    Well, it depends on how you define "get stuff done". They are two degrees that are very different, though they can certainly complement eachother well.

    Public health is usually more behind the scenes. There are exceptions to that, the first one that comes to mind being tobacco use - alot of the national campaigns are run by public health folks. They are generally not front-line folks and you won't be seeing clients/patients with a public health degree. They are behind the scenes figuring out why those disorders are so prevalent and how to prevent them.

    You can do most of that with a psych degree too, but could you do it as well as someone in public health? Maybe, depends on the person and the research topic.

    I may go for an MPH after my doctorate, its something I'd consider. The big plus to an MPH is that its one of the most versatile degrees out there. Done correctly it can set you up to work in just about every health-setting on virtually any health-related topic.

    Then again, some people would consider the lack of focus to be a disadvantage too.
     

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