Principles of Behavioral Medicine: Implications for Prevention
Stephen M. Weiss University of Miami School of Medicine
Over the past 20 years, revolutionary changes have occurred in the way we think about chronic disease, how we consider what causes it; how we measure its depth and intensity, how we treat it, and, most important, how we seek to prevent its occurrence in the first place. Historically, attempts by the biomedical and behavioral disciplines independently to investigate these chronic disease issues have resulted in serious errors or omissions, due to an insufficient understanding of concepts within "the other" discipline's purview. It has become increasingly obvious that successful research, prevention, and control efforts require collaborative relationships among the various disciplines that collectively embody the necessary expertise to understand all the dimensions of the problems facing them. Familiarity with one another's terminology, concepts, and perspectives is a prerequisite to model the combination of biobehavioral and sociocultural circumstances responsible for the development of chronic disease ( 1).
This conceptualization has been most thoroughly articulated by the term behavioral medicine, defined by the International Society of Behavioral Medicine as ". . . the development and integration of biomedical, psychosocial and behavioral sciences' knowledge and techniques relevant to health and illness and the application of this knowledge and these techniques to prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation."
The emphasis on "integration" calls for a pooling of talent across many disciplines to capitalize on the synergistic and catalytic potential inherent in such collaborative efforts. Given the major differences in perspective and concept that have traditionally separated the various disciplines, interdisciplinary efforts