In this assignment I will be producing a case study on male smokers. I will be describing and explaining the role of psychology in the health and wellbeing including key elements of the theoretical principles of health psychology. I will also include some statistics regarding smoking.

What is Health psychology?

Health psychology is designed to promote modification in individual’s attitude, behaviour and health care facilities. This is used to avoid behaviours and to help people by encouraging them to change their habits by having regular health checks, and understanding the perceptionsby examining the procedure that can explain such behaviours and addictions.

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In this case study we will be looking at the psychology behind why male adults get addicted to smoking. There are many reasons, influences and certain determinants which encourage people, who may find themselves addicted to smoking, some of those influences are peer pressure, stress, low income, anxiety or depression.

Wellbeing is a crucial part of our health. It is often described as feeling healthy, comfortable and happy. It is a combination of five essential elements. If someone hasn’t got a career, studies or something to look forward to it candiminish the chances of achieving a high wellbeing rapidly. Having a purpose to quit smoking for a life achievement or purpose can help motivate and determinate an individual to succeed. Social wellbeing; family, friends and social influences have an impact. The social learning theory describes how individuals learn by others. An addict will vary its addiction according to their surroundingsand company, if the addict was socializing with non-smokers it would motivate him to being healthy and it would diminish urges of wanting to smoke. Financial wellbeing is third crucial element. For example a person with less income will be worrying about financial problems and will most likely adapt smoking as a stress relief mechanism. Physical wellbeing that bears an influence upon smoking and determines health, if an individual is asthmatic they are less likely to continue smoking. Lastly community wellbeing is whenan individual’s environment plays a key role on how the situation will effect on their behaviour for example, smoking at a party will be encouraged whereas smoking at school would be discouraged.(Mary McMurran1994)

Is smoking an addiction?

Psychologists believe that all behaviour is an addiction.Casually addiction can be defined as a connection in a behaviour thatfunctions to diminishdesires and deliver relief from distress, to the extent that the benefits are outweighed.

Cigarettes have nicotine in them that is very addictive; it alters the chemicals in your brain. It affects chemicals named dopamine and noradrenaline. It then changes the stages of these chemicals which changes the awareness and mood. When nicotine is smoked it rushes to the brain, the affects produce pleasure and reduces stress and anxiety. Smokers enjoy this feeling and become dependent on it to satisfy their everyday cravings. (NHS, 2012) Due to the immediate effect of smoking on a smoker’s brain the smoker will continue to smoke to achieve this reward.


The graph shows statistics of smokers by age and sex. Age group 20-24 years old are most likely to start smoking due to about a third of other smokers. But as when people start to get older their less likely to start smoking, with the rate dropping to 14% for the people that are over 60. According to the Office for National Statistics; four out of ten people that stop at pubs tend to smoke, so clearly there is a strong link between socialising and smoking.

Individuals who had manual jobs in comparison to those who had professional jobs were twice as likely to smoke. (31% compared to 17%). Individuals that were living together in comparison to those who were married are twice as likely to smoke. (35% compared to 18%)

Through the Britain, the highest proportion of smokers was originated in the North East. (30%) (newsbbc,2012)

To conclude; by looking at the graph it is evident that there are more male smokers in comparison to female smokers.

Physical effects of smoking:

Smoking cigarettes can have damaging changes in the body, it harms practically every organ in the human body leading to numerous diseases and reducing health.

Here is a list of the physicals effects of smoking;

* “Reduced lung function

* Permanent damage to the lungs

* Increased lung infection such as coughing

* Irritation in the wind pipe and voice box

* Increased chances of heart attack sue to blood supply blockage

* Reduced blood flow

* Reduced bone thickness

* Premature wrinkles

* Gum disease

* Cancer” (livingstrong, 2012)

Psychological effects of smoking:

The psychological effects of smoking are directly linked to how the nicotine affects the brain. Research has shown that nicotine will have a comforting affect liable on the way a smoker will smoke. A smoker’s sleep can be affected by short term nicotine withdrawals. Quitting smoking can leave smokers desiring cigarettes for up to many years. Smokers perceive cigarettes as a therapy for everything; nicotine inhaling arouses the mind and calms the smoker’s nerves. (gumactions, 2012)

Stages of change Model:

When an individual decides to quit smoking, they have to go through a cognitive behavioural strategy which is based upon the social learning theory that describes the smoking cessation as a technique for disconnecting all the delicate connections that are known by the act of smoking. (Salma K, et al, 2007) The addict will have to go through a sequence of stages. This model has been used by primary health care such as doctors who use this as a smoking cessation to help those have addiction problems. Below is a list of the five stages of change;

* Contemplation: the addict would have to consider change due to health problems, financial difficulties or social sanctions.

* Commitment: the addict makes a commitment to their self to go through the stages and quit.

* Action: The smoker will dispose lighters, ashtrays, and remaining cigarettes and replace them with nicotine chewing gums or patches.

* Maintenance of change:the smoker may consolidate his behaviour change in dual course. The addict will begin to change his self-image to being fit and healthy.

* Relapse: this is the stage where people fail to keep up with the process and in order to quit again would need to go back to the contemplation stage.

This is the stage where smokers become conditioned. The thought of the activity stimulates the urges of wanting a cigarette, like Pavlov’s dogs that had learned to drool at the sound of the bell going off. These psychological links persist when a smoker is trying to quit. (netdoctor, 1998)

Health psychologists are employed in various health care settings such as hospitals, health units and private health authorities.Public organizations such as the NHS employ therapists while others work in charitable organizations and practises.

Models of health and illness:

Biomedicalclaims that smoking is the reason for heart diseases. However it is medically proven that not all smokers are diagnosed with heart disease. So clearly there are other factors involved.

Biopsychosocial takes a different approach; it is a model which considers a number of information in various fields to understand an addiction and to change behaviours like smoking that cause risks to an individual’s health. The model includes the physical independence on the intake of nicotine and the withdrawal signs such as; cravings for cigarettes, cravings, weight gain and mouth ulcers. This usually lasts up to four weeks or more.

Health Belief Model:

The health belief model was developed by Rosenstock (1996). The model was designed to explain health behaviour such as smoking in relations of the health belief and the treatment bysimilarlyguessing health by manipulatinghazards and what the chances of the treatment after diagnosis could be. The smoker’s willingness depends upon two circumstances. Firstly the point to which the smoker believes that changing his behaviour or pursuing medical assistance will help diminish the health risk. And secondly the point to which the smoker is actually posing a threat to his health and what the possible benefits and barriers are to prevent the action from occurring.


Despite the health belief model being produced and still in use even today, some people may not agree with its terms and conditions. It has been argued that the Health belief Model does not show any importance of anaddict’s economic and social issues. It also ignores the importance of the emotional role implicating factors such as fear and denial. (currentnursing,2012)


Health psychology is a moderately a new act of psychology. The medical psychologists approach the problem by exploring features such as psychological, physical and behavioural features to reflect in a holistic manner.To conclude it is clear that nicotine addiction is more of a psychological addiction than a physical addiction. Psychological addiction is additionally problematic to overcome. The Health Belief Model is an immediate procedure that is used to inspire healthy behaviour amongst individuals that have developed negative health results by putting themselves at risk. It is clear that an individual must assess their insights of vulnerability and severity of developing any diseases. It’s then essential to develop a composition by these perceptions. With that being said environmental influences have a contribution with indications to action such as media or close family. To finish off the benefits to change an individual behaviour must be evaluated in contradiction of the barriers to change behaviour so that it can be determined the action will be useful.

Reference List:

BBCNews (2007) [online] available at:[accessed: 18 march 2014]

Current Nursing (2012) [online] available at: [accessed: 17 February 2014]

Gum Actions (2011-2014) [online] available at: [accessed: 23 February 2014]

Living Strong (2014) [online] available at: [accessed: 3 March 2014]

Net Doctor (1998-2014) [online] available at: [accessed: 26 February 2014]

NHS [online] available at: [accessed: 21 February 2014]

Mary McMurran. (1994) The Psychology Of Addiction. London: Tylor& Francis Ltd, pp. 34-38


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