Blending Traditions: A Concluding Perspective on Behavioral Medicine Approaches to Coronary Heart Disease Prevention
Neil Schneiderman University of Miami
Kristina Orth-Gomér Karolinska Institute
This book represents an attempt to describe the contemporary context for behavioral medicine approaches to coronary heart disease (CHD) prevention. Almost two decades ago, a small group of distinguished health scientists developed and shaped the concept of behavioral medicine into the following classical definition: "Behavioral Medicine is the interdisciplinary field concerned with the development and integration of behavioral and biomedical science knowledge and techniques relevant to the understanding of health and illness and the application of this knowledge and these techniques to prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation" ( 1).
In examining the contents of the present volume, several things become evident with regard to the classical definition. First, the health scientists who formulated the definition were prescient in anticipating the progress that would be made in using an interdisciplinary approach to study and deal with chronic disease and its prevention. Second, the definition of behavioral medicine needs to be expanded to include not only the integration of biomedical and behavioral science knowledge, but also sociocultural and psychosocial knowledge. Thus, it is clear from reading the present volume that understanding and progress in CHD prevention requires knowledge about social class, social relations, and personality factors, as well as pathophysiology and principles of behavior change.
A third thing that may become evident from reading this book is that behavioral medicine approaches are important for health promotion as well as disease prevention. Because good health is not merely the absence of disease ( 2), there is a need to apply behavioral medicine procedures to maintain and