Behavioral medicine in medical education: report of a survey

Soc Work Health Care. 2000;31(2):15-29. doi: 10.1300/J010v31n02_03.


Behavioral medicine has become increasingly important in medical education over the past two decades, but adoption of its principles and methods has been slow. Behavioral medicine stresses the effects of human behavior on health and illness using a biopsychosocial approach. It also focuses on the use of the doctor-patient relationship, which, if developed using appropriate communication skills, can result in greater patient satisfaction and increased compliance. The authors surveyed all 124 American medical schools to assess both national trends and specific efforts in the teaching of behavioral medicine principles and methods. A review of the types of behavioral medicine programs offered reveals that eight percent of U.S. medical schools had integrated programs of behavioral medicine. Several successful and effective programs were identified, as were a number of specific curricular components. There are several options available to medical schools to integrate behavioral medicine into medical education. The authors conclude that medical education must include behavioral medicine in order to improve the health of the public and to meet the demands of a changing health care system.

MeSH terms

  • Behavioral Medicine / education*
  • Curriculum
  • Data Collection
  • Holistic Health
  • Humans
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Program Development
  • Psychosomatic Medicine / education
  • Schools, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States