‘We just need to find space for them to practice so that we can help to make a stronger society’: Perceived barriers and facilitators to employing Health Psychologists in UK public health and clinical health settings

J. K. Hart, Panayiotis Michael, R. Hawkins, E. R. Bull, A. Farrar, C. Baguley, R. R. Turner, L. M. T. Byrne‐Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction
In recent years health psychology has received significant attention within the health sector, due to its application to understanding influences on health and well-being and translation of health psychology into interventions to support behaviour change. However, this rapid acceleration of the field has not equated to increased roles for health psychology in healthcare settings, and is it unclear why. This study aimed to explore the views of potential and current employers of health psychologists, to elucidate barriers and facilitators of employing health psychologists in healthcare settings.

Methods
Semi-structured interviews were carried out to explore the experiences of working with and/or employing health psychologists. Opportunities and barriers were explored for increasing access to health psychology expertise in the NHS and public health. Interviews were analysed using inductive thematic analysis.

Results
Fifteen participants took part in interviews. Participants were mid-senior level professionals working in varied healthcare settings and/or academic institutions. The majority had experience of health psychology/working with health psychologists, whilst others had limited experience but an interest in employing health psychologists. Three key themes were identified: 1) the organisational fit of health psychologists, 2) perception of competition for roles and 3) ideas for changing hearts, minds and processes.

Conclusion
Barriers exist to employing health psychologists in healthcare settings. These barriers include misunderstandings of the role of health psychologists and the need to preserve other disciplines due to perceived competition. Recommendations for change included showcasing the benefits and skills of health psychologists and having transparent conversations with employees and multi-disciplinary colleagues about roles.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2023

Keywords

  • Knowledge translation
  • behavioural science
  • public health
  • health psychology

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