Evidence presented at the recent "European Federation of Psychologists' Association" (EFPA) conference showed that psychological interventions do not only improve quality of life but are also cost-effective. Return on investment of health promotion at work is 10:1. For bullying prevention in schools it is 14:1. Treating depression and anxiety in patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer or asthma can reduce total care costs by 20%.
An action programme for better health at lower costs, which will engage psychologists at the European and national levels, was the aim of the EFPA conference on September 20 and 21st, 2012, in Brussels. Health policy in the EU and the role of behaviour in disease, current health inequalities, and the potential for improving health and lowering costs by collaborating with the medical and nursing professions, was the hot topic discussed.
This EFPA conference was the first meeting of political decision-makers and psychological experts in behavior change, prevention and treatment; those involved in health care and care for the elderly, and included the World Health Organization. University of Luxembourg Psychologists, Professors Dieter Ferring and Claus Vögele, were key advisory committee members for the congress and chairs of discussions.
"I would regard this conference to be a major step forward on the way to Psychology being recognized as a key science to inform European policy on health in general, and the European Commission in implementing its health strategy in particular", says Professor Vögele of the INSIDE research unit at the University of Luxembourg.
University of Luxembourg researchers are working on health prevention to combat and shape the future of health care in Europe. Prof. Ferring, head of the Research Unit INSIDE who focuses on Geropsychology, the branch of psychology concerned with the well-being of older persons, explains, "In order to promote healthy ageing preventive efforts to foster a healthy life style should begin as early as possible in life. Health in old age is a factor of life style, biogenetics and sociocultural factors. For example, a well-trained 80 year old with a life time of exercise and a healthy life style is better off than a 50-year-old smoker with no physical exercise and a history of bad nutrition", says Ferring, who's recent publication in the Journal GeroPsych entitled, Geropsychology across Europe, was discussed at EFPA.
Professors Vögele and Ferring left the conference feeling positive on the future of Psychology in Europe. "It is essential to systematically consider the full range of possible behaviour change interventions, to produce optimally effective interventions and collect evidence on the effectiveness of policy interventions Health promotion via behaviour changes", says Vögele, and "successful prevention strategies need to be implemented early in life", adds Ferring.