Health psychology: mapping biobehavioral contributions to health and illness

Annu Rev Psychol. 1999;50:137-63. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.50.1.137.


Our evolving understanding of how psychosocial and behavioral factors affect health and disease processes has been marked by investigation of specific relationships and mechanisms underlying them. Stress and other emotional responses are components of complex interactions of genetic, physiological, behavioral, and environmental factors that affect the body's ability to remain or become healthy or to resist or overcome disease. Regulated by nervous, endocrine, and immune systems, and exerting powerful influence on other bodily systems and key health-relevant behaviors, stress and emotion appear to have important implications for the initiation or progression of cancer, HIV, cardiovascular disease, and other illnesses. Health-enhancing and health-impairing behaviors, including diet, exercise, tobacco use, and protection from the sun, can compromise or benefit health and are directed by a number of influences as well. Finally, health behaviors related to being ill or trying to avoid disease or its severest consequences are important. Seeking care and adhering to medical regimens and recommendations for disease surveillance allow for earlier identification of health threats and more effective treatment. Evidence that biobehavioral factors are linked to health in integrated, complex ways continues to mount, and knowledge of these influences has implications for medical outcomes and health care practice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Behavior, Addictive / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Population Surveillance
  • Psychoneuroimmunology / trends*
  • Psychophysiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*