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Psychology 811

PSYC 811: Health Psychology in Rural Areas

Prerequisites: Admission into PsyD program or permission of instructor

Credit Hours: (3)

This course includes the study of selected physical health problems of people who live in rural areas (e.g., Appalachia). Rates of physical health disorders that are higher than the average U.S. rate will be studied. The causes of higher rates of disorders will be examined and interventions to alleviate them will be studied. Special attention will be focused on children, older adults, women, and members of various minority groups in rural areas.

Detailed Description of Course

This cours sequence may include the following topics:

I.    General Information on rural areas (e.g., Appalachia)
    A.    Historical aspects
    B.    Geographical characteristics
    C.    Socio-economic aspects
    D.    Minority group (e.g., Latino, African American) representation
    E.    Educational Levels
    F.    Health literacy

II.    Primary Physical Illnesses and Related Psychological Issues
    (higher incidence rate in rural areas than national rates)
    A.    Obesity
    B.    Diabetes
    C.    Cardiovascular disorders
    D.    Hypertension
    E.    Chronic lung disease

III.    Stressors and Barriers to Health Treatment
    A.    Poverty (e.g., impacts cost for transportation and fees for services)
    B.    Insufficient governmental support
    C.    Underserved mental health services, including residential treatment centers and programs
    D.    Shortage of professional mental health providers and physicians
    E.    Lack of accessibility
    F.    No health insurance

IV.    Roles and Responsibilities for Psychologists in Rural Areas may include:
    A.    Provide psychological services for children, adolescents, and older adults
    B.    Provide services for minorities and women
    C.    Provide vocational services for the unemployed and underemployed and the poor
    D.    Neuropsychological assessments and forensic evaluations
    E.    Treatment of depression, substance abuse, and other mental health issues
    F.    Provide family therapy
    G.    Clinical supervision
    H.    Develop physical health problem prevention programs

Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

This course will provide students with an understanding of the health needs in rural areas (e.g., Appalachia).  It examines the physical and mental health disorders and addresses the psychologist’s possible role in working with rural mental health issues.  The student will be required to select a physical/psychological disorder and to research the incidence rate, cause(s), characteristics, treatment strategies, availability of treatment options, and prognosis in a rural setting.  The course will include a significant amount of reading concerning rural health issues.  The students will be evaluated on their literature review and tested on assigned readings and presentations.  It will be conducted as a seminar with an emphasis on student participation.

Goals and Objectives of the Course

At the end of this course the student should:

    1.    Be able to identify the mental health issues facing rural residents.
    2.    Know and understand the cause(s) of higher incidence of psychological disorders in rural areas.
    3.    Be able to identify the stressors associated with living in rural areas and the association with health conditions.
    4.    Be aware of the different skills and competencies psychologists should develop to be effective in rural health psychology areas.
    5.    Know the specific needs of individuals who are members of minority groups, children, adolescents, women, unemployed, poor, and older adults.
    6.    Be able to integrate cultural and social justice issues into considerations of all the preceding goals.

Assessment Measures

Students will be assessed using several measures, which will include a research paper, class participation, and the final exam.

Other Course Information


Review and Approval

December 20, 2007