This review examines the application of positive psychology concepts in physical health care contexts. Positive psychology aims to promote well-being in the general population. Studies identifying character strengths associated with well-being in healthy populations are numerous. Such strengths have been classified and Positive Psychology Interventions (PPIs) have been created to further develop these strengths in individuals. Positive psychology research is increasingly being undertaken in health care contexts. The review identified that most of this research involves measuring character strengths and their association with health outcomes in patients with a range of different conditions, similar to the position in positive psychology research on non-clinical populations. More recently, PPIs are beginning to be applied to clinical populations with physical health problems and this research, although relatively scarce, is reviewed here for cancer, coronary heart disease, and diabetes. In common with PPIs being evaluated in the general population, high quality studies are scarce. Applying PPIs to patients with serious health conditions presents significant challenges to health psychologists. They must ensure that patients are dealt with appropriately and ethically, given that exaggerated claims for PPIs are made on the internet quite frequently. This is discussed along with the need for more high quality research.
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