Medical Psychology and Behavioural Medicine


The student is expected to:

1)      Learn the basics of psychology and the behavioural sciences as related to medical practice in the clinical and public health fields. Special attention is given to psychosocial determinants of health, and the behavioural dynamics that underlie health promotion, health risks and adaptation to illness. The student will understand the person (personality) in specific situations, in health and disease contexts, throughout the life cycle, using bio-psychosocial models. They must recognize family, occupational and sociocultural systems within the health-disease continuum.

2)       Develop attitudes of empathic interpersonal relatedness in Medicine, being sensible regarding emotional aspects of the doctor-patient relationship and acquiring basic communication skills in clinical interviewing or health communication contexts.

3)      Apply Behavioural Medicine evidence-based knowledge into specific clinical situations.

4)      Practice written and oral presentation skills, taking into account Behavioural Medicine learnings.


This curricular unit aims to bridge gaps between e.g. Introduction to Clinical Practice and the clinical disciplines of Psychiatry and Mental Health, in what relates to mental health and doctor-patient relationships.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Prof. Doutor Manuel Gonçalves Pereira


Weekly - Available soon

Total - Available soon

Teaching language






-          Sumários dos conteúdos teóricos (Temas), com indicação das referências bibliográficas essenciais e, pontualmente, com sugestões de leitura suplementar).

-          Ayers S., de Visser R.: Psychology for Medicine and Healthcare. 2nd ed. Sage, 2018. ISBN: 9781473969285 (capítulos específicos indicados nos Temas).


-          Alder B., Abraham C., Van Teijlingen E., Porter M.: Psychology and Sociology applied to Medicine. An Illustrated Colour Text. 3rd ed. Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-443-06787-7

-          Ayers S., de Visser R (2018). ISBN: 9781473969285 (restantes capítulos).

-          Fadem B.: Behavioral Science in Medicine. 2nd edition. Baltimore, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012. ISBN: 978-1-60913-664-2

-          Wedding D., Stuber M.L.: Behavior & Medicine. 5th Edition. Hogrefe Publishing, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-88937-375-4 

N.B. Abstracts are provided for each lecture, expanding topics that may not be fully covered in the main text. Some will suggest additional readings.

Teaching method

The program includes lectures, seminars and non-clinical practical classes. During seminars, topics are illustrated and discussed in depth. Practical classes involve: 1) group discussions; 2) video discussions; 3) training in communication skills and medical interviewing, with role-play and feedback.

Evaluation method

Regarding evaluation, there is a continuous evaluation (during practical classes, mostly focused on clinical communication skills and attitudes – 30% of the final grade), the oral discussion of a written essay previously handed over by the student (20% of the final grade) and final examinations (written or oral, focused on knowledge and cases’ assessment – 50% of the final grade).  The final grade will be the sum of these three components. Students must pass the continuous evaluation and final examinations; final approval will be granted with 9.45/20 in total.

Subject matter

(1)   Contribution of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences for medical practice. Models of mental functioning (psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioural, systemic and bio-psycho-social; neurobiological models).

(2)   Learning, cognitive functions and motivation in clinical contexts and public health.  Personality.

(3)   Human development and the life cycle.

(4)   Health and illness behaviours. Stress, appraisal and coping (example: stress in Medicine and professional burnout). Psychological adaptation to illness, disability and hospital admission. Placebo effect. Terminal illness, death and grief in Medicine.

(5)   Family aspects of health and disease. Impact on the family and family factors as related to the course of the disease.

(6)   The social and cultural contexts of health. Psychological aspects of e.g. cardiovascular diseases, stroke.

(7)   Advanced psychological aspects of health communication and the medical-patient relationship. Managing difficult situations and breaking bad news. Adherence. Motivational interviewing and behavioural change.


Programs where the course is taught: