During a pandemic like the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) flu virus, public health professionals are quoted in newspapers and blogs, and they appear on television and radio. They report on virus specifics and how it spreads, offer treatment options for those contracting the virus, and help promote prevention techniques to contain the further spread of such an unpredictable disease.
Besides pandemics, however, public health professionals conduct research and educate people on a multitude of far-reaching health concerns. One of the newest fields in public health, Public Health Psychology, expands the public health field by applying psychology to a population's overall health and well-being. Like other public health professions, those in public health psychology address health concerns for whole populations or sub-populations of people.
Because chronic diseases - also called non-communicable diseases - are the leading causes of illness and death today, public health psychology professionals focus on the connection between behavioral and emotional factors contributing to these illnesses. These illnesses include cardiovascular disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer and degenerative diseases.
"Non-communicable diseases cause 38 million deaths annually..." according to the World Health Organization. The WHO also reports that 80% of these deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries, and it forecasts deaths from non-communicable diseases to increase by 17% over the next 10 years.
What do public health psychology professionals do?
Working in research for nonprofit organizations, universities and the government, public health psychology professionals work with statistics through collecting, analyzing and interpreting large amounts of data. Many are also involved in the writing of research reports and presenting the findings. Public health professionals also work as consultants for government organizations and private industry, or they work in health care administration for hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and public health clinics.
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