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Physical Health

Heather N. Rasmussen and Sarah D. Pressman

Subject Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405161251.2009.x


Physical health can be described as a state of optimal well-being, free of disease or illness. When considering personal physical health, however, some might think about exercising outside on a summer day, whereas others might think about going throughout the day without experiencing physical pain. Accordingly, many researchers in psychology interested in studying health actually measure it in a variety of ways such as assessing illness, disease survival, or quality of life during an illness. In the following section, the definitions and measurement of physical health and illness will be discussed. This is followed by examples of research on positive psychological constructs and physical health/illness and finally, suggestions for future research in the field are identified. The term physical health is quite broad. Physical health can be framed in terms of absence of symptoms or objective indicators of disease or injury, whereas physical illness is the presence of subjective and objective indicators of disease or injury. Health also can be thought of as the presence of positive states, such as well-being or pregnancy, rather than simply the absence of illness or injury. Studying health and illness also is a broad endeavor as it could include research with healthy participants as well as patient populations. Studies of healthy participants are wide ranging, from smoking prevention ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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