410.613.01 | AY 2012-2013 - 3rd Term | 3 Credit(s)
MW 1:30:00 PM
  • Contact Information
    Carl Latkin
  • Course Learning Objectives

    Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

    • explain levels of analysis of psychsocial factors
    • delineate prominent theories of behavior change
    • compare measures of psychosocial factors
    • describe and critique quantitative measures of social context
    • analyze the relationship between behavioral factors and chronic and infectious diseases
    • develop behavioral interventions for disease prevention and treatment
    • develop conceptual models of behavior change
  • Course Description
    Reviews studies on the roles of social and psychological factors, such as socioeconomic status, mobility, ethnicity, stress, social support, coping, and illness behavior, in selected health disorders and chronic diseases. Discusses factors in relation to disease etiology, recognition of and response to symptoms, seeking care, the doctor-patient relationship and communication patterns, compliance, the course of disease, and disease outcomes.

    Additional Faculty Notes:


    The biomedical model of causality is highly prominent in the field of public health. One of the goals of this course is to teach students how to critique this model and to present alternative social science models of causality in public health research. 
    A second course objective is to present the major social psychological theories of health behavior change and then to critique these theories. A prominent perspective in public health is to view health behavior change as a rational process based on information acquisition and access to appropriate health services. In this class we will analyze the reasons for this approach to conceptualizing health behaviors, its effectiveness, and divergent approaches to studying health behaviors and behavior change.  In addition to analyzing the theories we will examine what makes an interesting theory and research questions.
    Psychosocial factors can be examined at different levels of analyses.  Until recently there has been a bias to focus research and interventions at the individual level of analysis. In this class we will discuss the utility and methodology of assessing these factors at different levels, including social and personal networks, social settings, family and dyad level. We will also discuss the theory and methods of measuring and modeling neighborhood characteristics. We will also examine the unique problems and biases that may occur when modeling neighborhood and other geographic psychosocial factors. Theoretical and analytic issues in using geographically based data will be discussed.
    A third course objective is to provide students a conceptual understanding of how to measure social psychological constructs and how to validate and critique these social psychological scales, such as depression or perceptions of neighborhood. After discussing issues of scale measurement, we will then examine examples of psychosocial interventions that promote changes in health behaviors. Materials will be presented on how to develop and implement psychosocial interventions. 
     The class will highlight topical areas of stress and coping research, placebos, HIV prevention and transmission, depression, and substance abuse (tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs). Research on the relationship between social psychological states and physical and mental health outcomes will also be examined. Examples of psychosocial factors in other areas of research such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity will be presented.  Students are encouraged to develop an intervention for a disease or condition that is of interest to them.


  • Methods of Assessment
    Final project, small assignments, and tests

    Additional Faculty Notes:

    Grading will be based on class participation and assignments, which includes a final group project.
  • Required Text(s)

    Additional Faculty Notes:

     Readings have been placed on Courseplus

  • Course Schedule

    Please see the course Session for a full list of dates and items for this course.

  • Academic Ethics Code

    Students enrolled in the Bloomberg School of Public Health of The Johns Hopkins University assume an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner appropriate to the University's mission as an institution of higher education. A student is obligated to refrain from acts which he or she knows, or under the circumstances has reason to know, impair the academic integrity of the University. Violations of academic integrity include, but are not limited to: cheating; plagiarism; knowingly furnishing false information to any agent of the University for inclusion in the academic record; violation of the rights and welfare of animal or human subjects in research; and misconduct as a member of either School or University committees or recognized groups or organizations.

  • Assignment submission

    ***Please note:

    All assignments should be submitted through the CoursePlus webpage, through the appropriate drop box. Please submit only the following file types as appropriate: Word (.doc); PDF (.pdf); Powerpoint (.ppt)

  • Disability Support Services
    If you are a student with a documented disability who requires an academic accommodation, please contact the Office of Student Life Services at 410-955-3034 or via email at