The European Health Psychology Conference 2005, which will be attended by 620 delegates from 34 countries, brings together a range of academics, healthcare professionals and organisational psychologists who will present cutting edge research on a wide variety of topics, which are impacting health and the quality of family life in society.
The diverse range of topics to be discussed include the stress of illness; sexual health; perceptions, attitudes and the experience of aging; quality of life following childhood illness; coping with cancer and chronic pain; influences of exercise and physical activity; and public attitudes towards advances in genetic technology.
Professor Shelley Taylor, UCLA will deliver a keynote address on Wednesday on 'Why people tend and befriend under stress', which will address the importance and source of social support for those suffering illness or stress. For many people suffering severe stress or trauma, expressing their feelings through writing has proved both therapeutic and life-enhancing. Professor James Pennebaker, University of Texas, who has carried out extensive research in this field, will deliver a keynote address on Thursday, entitled ''Two decades of expressive writing and health.'
Commenting on the conference Professor Ruth Curtis, Conference President and member of Dept of Psychology, NUI Galway, said, "We are very honoured to host this prestigious conference, which recognises the outstanding contribution that the Department of Psychology at NUI Galway has made to health psychology in Ireland.
"This conference brings together many of the leaders in this field and recognises the importance of health psychology in helping us to explore and understand how we cope with and manage the impact that an ever changing society is having on people's lives.
"We have a duty to ensure that policy makers understand the important role that health psychology plays in preparing strategies for the development of health services in Ireland. It is vital that the Government recognises this important role in the future and provides funded training places to enable graduates to specialise in health psychology."
Health psychology can play an important role in significant health promotion initiatives such as the introduction of the smoking ban in Ireland.
NUI Galway was the first university in Ireland to introduce a professional training programme in Health Psychology.