What is a Behavioral Medicine Evaluation?
Behavioral medicine is the interdisciplinary field concerned with the development and integration of behavioral, psychosocial, and biomedical knowledge and techniques relevant to the understanding and treatment of health and illness. Behavioral medicine psychologists are trained in a biopsychosocial approach to assessment and treatment. This perspective acknowledges the role and interplay of biological, psychological, and social factors in the way people feel, think, act, and how this affects their health and illness. They then apply this knowledge and these techniques to assist with prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of a wide range of biopsychosocial issues, including chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, anxiety, arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease (heart disease, hypertension, stroke), depression, insomnia, and obesity.
Health and Behavior
Changes in behavior and lifestyle can improve health, prevent illness, and reduce symptoms of illness. More than 25 years of research, clinical practice, and community-based interventions in the field of behavioral medicine have shown that behavioral changes can help people feel better physically and emotionally, improve their health status, increase their self-care skills, and improve their ability to live with chronic illness. Behavioral interventions also can improve the effectiveness of medical interventions, reduce overutilization of the healthcare system, and reduce the overall costs of care.
Key Strategies for Successful Behavior Change
Behavioral medicine based treatment may focus on a number of areas to help achieve improvement in symptoms and overall quality of life. These typically include lifestyle changes (e.g., improve sleep, improve nutrition, increase physical activity, stop smoking, use medications appropriately, and prevent or reduce alcohol and drug abuse), training in skills that help regulate disease symptoms (e.g., coping skills, relaxation training, self-monitoring, stress management, time management, pain management, problem-solving, communication skills, etc.), and traditional psychologically based therapeutic techniques to assist with reduction of symptoms (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy for depression and anxiety).
Research Shows that Behavioral Interventions can Affect Health
Research over the past twenty years has clearly shown that behavioral medicine treatment can help individuals prevent disease onset, lower blood pressure, lower serum cholesterol, reduce body fat, reverse atherosclerosis, decrease pain, reduce surgical complications, decrease complications of pregnancy, enhance immune response, increase relaxation, increase functional capacity, improve sleep, improve productivity at work and school, improve strength/endurance/mobility, and improve quality of life.