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An oral history of health psychology in the UK.

Quinn, Francis; Chater, Angel; Morrison, Val


Francis Quinn

Angel Chater

Val Morrison


Purpose: An oral history of the development of health psychology in the United Kingdom. Methods: Standard oral history methods produced interviews with 53 UK health psychologists, averaging 92 min in length. All interviewees entered the field from the 1970s to the 2000s, representing all four countries in the United Kingdom. A reconstructive mode of analysis, along with the few existing sources, was used to create a narrative of the history of health psychology in the United Kingdom. Audio recordings and transcripts will be archived for use by future researchers. Findings: In the 1970s, medical schools in London recruited psychologists to teach, while also conducting pragmatic research on issues in healthcare. At the same time, some clinical psychologists began to work with physical health conditions in general hospitals. Partly influenced by developments in the United States and Europe, an identity of ‘health psychology’ developed and spread to researchers and practitioners doing work in psychology and health. In the 1980s, the field continued to attract researchers, including social psychologists working with health behaviours and outcomes, and clinical psychologists working in health care settings. During this time, it became formalized as a scientific field with the creation of the BPS Health Psychology Section, courses, and journals. In the 1990s, the field moved towards professional practice, which was controversial with other BPS divisions. However, it continued to grow and develop through the 2000s and 2010s. Conclusion: Reflections on the development of UK health psychology represent the first historical narrative produced from oral testimony of those who were present at the time.

Journal Article Type Article
Journal British journal of health psychology
Print ISSN 1359-107X
Publisher Wiley Open Access
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Institution Citation QUINN, F., CHATER, A. and MORRISON, V. 2020. An oral history of health psychology in the UK. British journal of health psychology [online], Early View. Available from:
Keywords History of health psychology; History of psychology; Oral history


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