Nothing is More Practical than a Good Theory: Exploring, Testing, and Applying Theories in Health Psychology

Supervised by Prof. Marie Johnston and Prof. John Weinman
13 -15 August 2000 - Leiden, The Netherlands
Prof. Marie Johnston from the University of St. Andrews (Scotland) and Prof. John Weinman from King's College London (England), directed the CREATE workshop 2000. The title of this three-day workshop was "Nothing is more practical than a good theory: Exploring, testing, and applying theories in health psychology". After the success of the first CREATE workshop held in Florence, Italy, in September 1999, this workshop again was an excellent learning experience for early career health psychology researchers. The workshop took place immediately before the EHPS conference in Leiden, The Netherlands (16 -18 August 2000).

Content of the workshop

The themes of the workshop were as follows:
Using general theoretical frameworks in health psychology
Measurement, design, and methodological issues in testing theories
Translating theory-driven findings into intervention-type research

Theme 1 - Using general theoretical frameworks in health psychology

Health psychology is a practical discipline, but in this session it was argued that theoretical foundations are necessary for the progress of knowledge. Theory can inform the design of interventions and the measures that are used for evaluation. The rationale for theory building in health psychology and the argument for theory-driven research were discussed.
What are the advantages of general theories (e.g. from social and personality psychology) over specific or implicit theories for ill people? Examples of health psychology research that use a general theoretical framework were discussed.
What are the characteristics of useful theories for application in health psychology research?
What are the rules for developing theories or extending existing theories?
Recent developments and thinking about cause and effect in health psychology were discussed.

Theme 2 - Measurement, design, and methodological issues in testing theories

What role can methodology play in the development of theories?
The value of using factor analysis as a research tool (e.g., dimensionality of a construct).
What is causality and how can we test for it?
Methodologies for longitudinal research.
The pros and cons of randomised experimental designs in health psychology.
Recent developments in methodology.

Theme 3 - Translating theory driven findings into intervention type research

What is the clinical significance of the theories we use? Can we use theories in health psychology to design successful interventions?
Can we evaluate the effects of an intervention using a particular theory?
What are examples of theory-based intervention programmes?
Models of Health and Illness Behaviour