Psychological treatment can help treat lifestyle diseases

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A recent South Australian study has revealed the disturbing news that almost half of the males in their study age between 35 to 80, were overweight and another 31 per cent obese, along with other alarming figures regarding the high incidence of diabetes, asthma, heart disease, arthritis and cancer, all of which can be related to lifestyle factors which can influence the severity of the disease and complicate the outcome.

“It is clear that unless we assist people to change their lifestyles, Australia is headed for a health crisis,” says Amanda Gordon, President of the Australian Psychological Society. “Better use of Australia’s psychologists is the key solution to the need to promote healthier lifestyles.”

“There is now strong evidence to show the effectiveness of psychological treatments in changing the behaviour which contributes to the development of chronic disease such as obesity and diabetes,” says Gordon. “For a long time, the APS has emphasised that psychological interventions, can greatly assist in the reduction of these health problems, which are a major drain on the economy,” says Gordon.

Psychological interventions have been estimated to cost between 10%-50% less than medical treatment. A 1983 study of 700 patients with heart disease, hypertension and diabetes receiving psychological services were tracked for a three-year period and compared to a group of 1300 patients who did not receive psychological treatment. Those patients who received psychological treatment showed a 40% reduction in annual medical costs when compared to patients who were not given psychological services. Once the cost of psychological intervention was taken into account there was still a 5% net saving.

“What and how much you eat and drink, whether or not you smoke or abuse other substances, how physically active you are, whether or not you manage stress, are all behaviours that are changeable” says Gordon, and that’s all pure psychology.” “If we want people to move to healthier lifestyles to prevent illness, especially the growing number of chronic illnesses, we must address those psychological risk factors.”

“No health professionals are better trained to help people change their lifestyle than our psychologists. APS Psychologists are highly trained to provide primary interventions to protect against obesity and other ‘lifestyle’ illnesses. There is an urgent need for proper funding of such services to increase consumer access to the right sort of prevention and treatment,“ she stated.

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 For more information contact:

Elaine Grant
Communications Manager
Australian Psychological Society
03 8662 3363
0412 683 068
www.psychology.org.au