July 24, 2024

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Health Psychology Topics: Research Ideas

6 min read

Heath psychology topics can look at a range of issues related to health, illness, and healthcare. It may include such things as eating disorders, weight management, diet, exercise, stress coping, women’s health, and more.

Health psychology, also known as medical psychology or behavioral medicine, focuses on how biology, psychology, behavior, and social factors influence health and well-being. It’s a diverse and rich field worth exploring if you’re studying to be a health professional.

At a Glance

Health psychology is a field focused on promoting wellness and understanding how physical health and illness impact mental well-being. Health psychology topics you might want to explore include stress management, behavior change, weight management, nutrition, eating disorders, exercise, illness prevention, managing chronic conditions, and much more.

Health Psychology Research and Paper Topic Ideas

The next time you’re looking for a research topic for your studies and would like to focus on health psychology, consider the following suggestions. These can inspire an experiment, a research paper, or any other type of class project.

Exercise and Eating Behavior Topic Ideas

Health behaviors, including exercise and diet, are a major topic within the field of health psychology. Some areas you might opt to explore include:

Weight Management Strategies

Explore some of the psychological strategies that can help people stick to a diet and exercise program. Is there any singular strategy that is more effective than others?

Eating Disorders

Analyze how media depictions of “ideal” bodies influence anorexia and bulimia. Is there a link between exposure to these images and eating disorders?

Social Media and Body Image

Look at how exposure to social media affects body image. Do young people who spend more time on social media have worse body image than those who use these apps and websites less frequently? What type of content has the most significant impact on body image?

Family Health and Safety Topic Ideas

Factors that influence family health and safety are another health psychology topic you might consider. Examples include:

Safe Sleep Practices

Explore how increased public awareness of infant safety, such as placing an infant on their back to sleep, or removing pillows and other objects from the sleeping area, have influenced the occurrence of SIDS, or “crib death.” Has the number of SIDS-related deaths gone down? Why do some parents ignore these sleep safety guidelines?

Childhood Immunizations

Assess current approaches to childhood immunizations. Why do some parents choose not to immunize their children? How does this impact public health? What can health professionals do to increase the likelihood that kids are immunized?

Teen Suicide

Explore the factors that contribute to teen suicide. How effective are suicide prevention programs? Which strategies are the most effective?

Effects of Caregiving

Look at the emotional, social, and psychological impact of caregiving, such as taking care of an aging parent, a family member with AIDS, or a spouse diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

Public Health Topic Ideas

Individual health is important, but health psychology are also interested in learning more about things that can have an effect on overall public health. Some examples include:>

Trauma Coping

What can mental health and medical professionals do to help people cope in the immediate aftermath of a disaster? Are there any strategies that result in better long-term outcomes?

PTSD in Veterans

Research the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veterans. What factors contribute to whether an individual veteran experiences PTSD? Which mental health interventions are most effective in treating this disorder?

Coping with Chronic Pain

Evaluate how stress management techniques and relaxation methods can help patients experiencing chronic pain. How effective are these tactics? How do they compare to traditional pharmacological approaches to pain management?

Smoking Cessation

Compare and contrast different approaches to quitting smoking. Which strategies are the most effective?

Safety Equipment Use

Look at different techniques that can be used to increase the likelihood that people will use safety equipment such as seat belts and bicycle helmets. What type of public safety program would you devise to encourage the use of these products?


A few areas you might want to explore in your research include exercise, eating behaviors, family health, safety, and public health. Such areas provide a wealth of health psychology topics to choose from.

More Health Psychology Topics

The above are just a few specific topics and questions you might want to explore, but there are also many other areas you might consider. Some broad health psychology topics that might also inspire your research include:

  • Biological factors that influence health
  • Social and environmental factors that impact health (i.e., social determinants of health)
  • Psychological factors that influence health
  • How patients cope with disease and illness
  • Treatment adherence (i.e., why some people don’t follow their treatment plan)
  • Ways to change bad habits
  • How to develop good habits
  • Techniques for controlling pain
  • How to handle stress
  • Factors that influence mental well-being
  • How to improve access to healthcare resources
  • Why people experience emotional eating
  • How emotions impact health behaviors
  • How discrimination affects health
  • How to improve doctor-patient communication

Tips Before You Get Started

Before you begin, make sure the topic you’re interested in matches the specific assignment. Even if your instructor doesn’t require you to get approval for your intended topic, it’s always a good idea to run it by them before you delve too deeply into your research.

Of course, make sure you’ve chosen a subject that you know you’ll be able to find appropriate sources for. You wouldn’t want to commit to a project only to find insufficient existing information to work with. Again, input from your instructor can prevent you from wasting time on a topic that offers little to go on.

What This Means For You

Health psychology focuses on understanding how social, environmental, biological, psychological, and cultural factors influence health and illness. If you are looking for a great topic to explore, consider picking a broad area of interest (like stress, exercise, safety, illness, etc.), and then narrowing down your focus to more specific questions of interest.

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Ian Lubek, Monica Ghabrial, Naomi Ennis, et al. Notes on the development of health psychology and behavioral medicine in the United States. J Health Psychol. 2018;23(3):492-505. doi:10.1177/1359105318755156

  2. Sanderson CA. Health Psychology: Understanding the Mind-Body Connection. SAGE Publications.

  3. Naumann E, Tuschen-Caffier B, Voderholzer U, Schäfer J, Svaldi J. Effects of emotional acceptance and rumination on media-induced body dissatisfaction in anorexia and bulimia nervosa. J Psychiatr Res. 2016;82:119-125. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2016.07.021

  4. McNeil DA, Mueller M, MacDonald S, et al. Maternal perceptions of childhood vaccination: Explanations of reasons for and against vaccination. BMC Public Health. 2019;19(1):49. doi:10.1186/s12889-018-6338-0

  5. Shen S, Cheng C, Yang J, Yang S. Visualized analysis of developing trends and hot topics in natural disaster research. PLoS One. 2018;13(1):e0191250. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0191250

  6. Renshaw KD. An integrated model of risk and protective factors for post-deployment PTSD symptoms in OEF/OIF era combat veterans. J Affect Disord. 2011;128(3):321-326. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2010.07.022

  7. American Psychological Association. Health psychology promotes wellness.

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the “Everything Psychology Book.”


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