Psychological effects of particular diseases or medical conditions

Health Psychology Assessment Brief 2015: Hand in date 12th March 2015


You must select two research papers (journal articles) on the same Health Psychology topic to review


Many ideas to choose from, such as:


  • Changing particular health-limiting behaviours
  • Psychological effects of particular diseases or medical conditions
  • Psychological predictors or mediators of diseases or medical conditions
  • Promoting healthy behaviours in children
    • And many others – it is up to you.


To make your choice more straightforward, look for appropriate articles in Health Psychology journals (e.g., British Journal of Health Psychology, Health Psychology, European Journal of Health Psychology)


NB: Do not pick review articles to review. This is because they contain scant information about the different studies they review. They will not contain enough information about the methods and findings from individual studies for you to critique and compare and contrast. Clue: These tend to have the words ‘Meta-analysis, meta-analytical, or review of’ in their titles. Check with me if you are unsure.


You then need to:


  • Critically evaluate these articles
  • Compare and contrast methodologies, findings and so on
  • If the results differed between studies, why was this?
  • Although you are focusing on two articles, this is NOT the extent of your reading!!!
  • You still need to read sufficiently to be able to deal with this assignment properly. You will need to read enough to show that you fully understand the concepts, constructs, models, previous research, analyses, issues, strengths, and so on. You can use reviews/meta analyses in your background reading.
  • Do not write ‘this may’ or ‘this might’ without looking for evidence that suggests whether ‘it does’ or ‘it doesn’t’!!



Your review should have:


  1. A title. You can add the title of the papers and authors in the title if it will save you words in your essay. You must include the full titles of the papers and names of authors in the title or introduction to your review.
  2. An introduction. At least you should: introduce the area – e.g., what IS coronary heart disease? Why this topic? Is it something that is really important/why should we care? Define key terms and jargon in your own words. Set out the structure of your essay – how are you going to do it? E.g., by describing and evaluating each study separately then comparing and contrasting each? Say what your conclusion is (e.g., that this research has advanced understanding of xx by demonstrating that xxx).
  3. An element of description of the studies. What did they do? Why? To whom? How? What did they find? What did they conclude?
  4. An element of evaluation of the studies. How good are they? What are the strengths of the design, methods, rationale etc.? What are the weaknesses / omissions and so on?
  5. An element of comparison and contrast with each other. Are the studies similar in terms of the results? If not, why not? Is it because of methodological differences? Is it because you can see that one study has flaws? Explain fully.
  6. An element of grounding in the wider literature. So don’t just look at these two papers. Look for other literature in the area and see whether these papers support or oppose current or historical thinking on the topic.
  7. A conclusion. Summarise the main points of your discussion. Come to some conclusion. E.g., you may favour one paper above the other because it is methodologically more sound and you may conclude about this (making sure you have fully explained earlier in your review). Or you may think that both papers make a really good and worthwhile contribution to the psychological literature, in which case you could finish like this.
  8. A full, and entirely accurate APA reference list. No excuses. I will not give an excellent for refs unless they are accurate. Pick up any recent APA paper (e.g., from Health Psychology, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology) and copy the model for references EXACTLY from their reference list – this means every full stop, capital letter, space, bracket, comma, italic and so on.
  9. Entirely accurate references in the essay. You must add a citation for everything derived from a source. This must be formatted in APA style (again follow the model in your example APA paper).



  • Much also depends on the WAY you write. At the very least your work should be accurately spelled and grammatically correct. You must proof read. You must use paragraphs appropriately – not one sentence paragraphs and not whole page paragraphs (Rule of thumb is one main point per paragraph, with at least 2 sentences).
  • Use indentations to show where a new paragraph starts (APA style). Double-space your essay and use 12-point font.
  • Your essay must be well structured. What is the most LOGICAL possible way of presenting your ideas so that there is a thread running through the essay from beginning to end? Link paragraphs so it’s not like reading a list of ‘and then’, ‘and then’. Feed forward and backwards (e.g., ‘In contrast to the findings of Smith and Bloggs which showed that xxx, Burglar and Crook found that this did not happen when xxx was controlled for).
  • Be really clear about what you’re saying. Don’t use throwaway comments (such as ‘eating fruit and vegetables is good for you’) without back up from citations and/or further explanation.
  • Assume I know nothing about the area at all (so ensure you explain yourself fully). That doesn’t necessarily mean you should write a paragraph in explanation – a well constructed sentence or two may well be enough.
  • A balance between breadth and depth of information is a vital skill. So you have to balance how many different ideas you discuss with how many words you can afford to spend on each. You have to make a judgment about how critical a particular piece of information is to your argument and thus how much of your ‘word limit’ it deserves. As a rule of thumb it is better to make fewer points in appropriate detail rather than writing only a sentence about many different concepts or issues.
  • After this, factors such as originality and turn of phrase make a difference. Construct well thought out arguments and present your ideas in a clear and interesting way. All else being equal, a poorly constructed and written essay will get lower marks than one that is better written and where ideas ‘flow’.
  • Your skill is to do all of the above (and anything else that you decide should be done that I haven’t mentioned) in the best way possible. YOU will judge how you should ultimately deal with this assignment and sometimes your judgment will be better than at other times.
  • Allow yourself sufficient time so you’re not throwing it together at the last minute when you are unlikely to be able to think clearly.


Essay submission: Submit this assessment by Turnitin. Your Turnitin submission is your official receipted copy which must be submitted by the deadline of 23.59 on the 12th March.




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