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In July 1999, the First International Conference on Critical and Qualitative Approaches to Health Psychology was held in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. Over 120 critical health psychologists from 20 countries and every continent on the globe attended the conference. It was agreed that there was an urgent need to establish a network to begin to connect those health psychologists throughout the world who were interested in developing a more critical approach to the subject.
In August 2001, the Second International Conference was held in Birmingham, UK. At this conference, it was decided to establish the International Society of Critical Health Psychology.
The society has three primary aims:
- To promote increased debate about critical ideas, qualitative and participatory research methods, and social, political and cultural issues within health psychology.
- To facilitate contact and collaboration between critical health psychologists.
- To promote the development of resources and training opportunities in critical health psychology.
Members of the society espouse a variety of theoretical and methodological viewpoints. However, as with other critical psychologists, they share a common dissatisfaction with the positivist assumptions of much of mainstream psychology and its ignorance of broader social and political issues. Instead, they share an interest in various critical ideas (e.g. social constructionism, post-modernism, feminism, marxism, etc.) and various qualitative and participatory methods of research (e.g. discourse analysis, grounded theory, action research, ethnography, etc.) and their relevance to understanding health and illness. Further, they share an awareness of the social, political and cultural dimensions of health and illness (e.g. poverty, racism, sexism, political oppression, etc.) and an active commitment to reducing human suffering and promoting improved quality of life, especially among those sections of society most in need.
The society has members throughout the world. In 2014 it had approximately 750 members in over 30 countries.
The society organizes a biennial conference. These conferences have been held in St. John's, Newfoundland (1999), Birmingham, UK (2001), Auckland, New Zealand (2003), Sheffield, UK (2005), Boston, USA (2007), Llausanne, Switzerland (2009), Adelaide, Australia (2011), Bradford, UK (2013), with the 9th Biennial Conference to be held in Grahamstown, South Africa in July 2015.
- Lyons, A., & Chamberlain, K. (2006). Health psychology: A critical introduction. Cambridge University Press.
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