Psychologists use a variety of theories and approaches to deliver evidence based treatments. We train for a minimum of seven years to become experts on behaviour. We then apply this training to:
Health promotion and prevention of ill health
- we can help with lifestyle changes such as smoking cessation, graded exercise, healthy eating, stress management
Understanding and managing medical conditions. We can:
- provide a detailed neuropsychological assessment after a stroke, to provide the basis for rehabilitation
- provide education (individually or in groups) to help people make informed decisions about their care, particularly where they are weighing up the risks and benefits of complex treatments
- help people to adjust to illness, identify coping skills to manage their medication or other aspects of treatment
- work within the multidisciplinary team to provide a rehabilitation programme after a heart attack, a stroke or a long stay in hospital
- help people to manage symptoms such as fatigue, pain, breathlessness, sleep disturbance, anxiety and depression, side effects of medication, poor concentration, tinnitus, disfigurement etc
- work with relatives to support the move from hospital to self-management
- help individuals to identify relevant sources of information and support in the community
- help people improve their self-esteem, relationships and quality of life
Health professional behaviour
- help nurses to manage anxiety or psychological distress on the wards
- design an intervention to promote regular hand washing
Service delivery, redesign and evaluation
- design a pathway that facilitates earlier discharge from hospital
- design an intervention to increase referrals for smoking cessation from routine appointments
Psychologists do not have medical training and we do not prescribe medication.
Clinically relevant research and audit
Research and audit is an important part of psychological training. The Royal Free Hospital is part of the UCL academic partnership and therefore strongly encourages clinically relevant research.
Many of the psychologists at the Royal Free are experts in highly specialist fields and have an international reputation for their work.
Is clinical health psychology effective?
Psychologists work using evidence based approaches as set out in national guidelines. We set goals for treatment and measure our success in reaching those goals. For many conditions, psychological input has been demonstrated to improve symptom management, increase mobility, reduce disability and shorten length of hospital stays, resulting in considerable cost savings. Most analysis of the cost of long-term physical health conditions has come from the USA or Europe, where it has been possible to draw data from insurance records. In Canada, clinical health psychology has been demonstrated to save $5 for every $1 spent. Recent research with COPD in the UK has produced cost savings in the same ratio, so there is increasing evidence not only for clinical effectiveness but for cost savings where psychologists are involved in multidisciplinary care.