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 da bibliografia essencial.
- Ayers S, de Visser R (2018). Psychology for Medicine and Healthcare. 2nd ed. Sage. ISBN: 9781473969285 (certos capítulos/secções, enquanto alguns outros são ‘complementares’, conforme indicado nos Temas).
- Feldman MD, Christensen JF, Satterfield JM (2019). Behavioral Medicine: A Guide for Clinical Practice. 5th ed. (cf. site FCM/UNL: Biblioteca\Recursos electrónicos\Livros\ACCESS MEDICINE) – alguns capítulos poderão ser considerados essenciais, conforme indicado nos Temas).
- Fortin VI AH, et al, Eds (2019). Smith’s Patient-Centered Interviewing. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill (cf. também Biblioteca\...ACCESS MEDICINE)
- Harrison, Cowen, Burns & Fazel (2018). Shorter Oxford Textbook of Psychiatry. 7th ed, Oxford University Press.
- Macedo A.F., Pereira, A.T., Madeira, N (2018). Psicologia na Medicina. LIDEL. ISBN: 978-989-752-348-9
- Van Teijlingen, E & Humphris GM  (2019). Psychology and Sociology applied to Medicine. An Illustrated Colour Text. 4th ed. Elsevier.
- Wedding D, Stuber ML: Behavior & Medicine. 6th ed. Hogrefe Publishing, 2020. ISBN: 978-0-88937-560-4

N.B. (Erasmus students) - overviews are provided for each topic, extending contents that may not be fully covered in the main textbook. Some will suggest additional readings.

Teaching method

The program includes online seminars and practical classes. During seminars, topics are briefly illustrated but students must focus by themselves on the teaching materials that will be available, in sequence, at the Moodle platform. Practical classes mostly 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 the discussion of a written essay, and clinical communication skills and attitudes – 50% 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 mean 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: