Psychosocial risk and management of physical diseases

J Behav Med. 2019 Feb;42(1):16-33. doi: 10.1007/s10865-018-00007-y. Epub 2019 Jan 10.


During the 40 years since the Yale conference on Behavioral Medicine and the founding of the Journal of Behavioral Medicine considerable progress has been made in understanding the role of psychosocial risk and management of physical diseases. We here describe the development of these fundamental concepts from early research on stress through studies of the Type A behavior pattern to more contemporary approaches to the relationship between psychosocial risks and benefits in relation to disease processes. This includes the relationship of psychosocial risk to cancers, cardiovascular diseases (CVD), cardiometabolic disorders, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Human Immune Deficiency Syndrome. During the past 40 years the effects of prolonged distress responses in the pathogenesis of some cancers and CVD have been well-established and modifiable behavioral, cognitive and social factors have been shown to produce favorable outcome components in the management of such diseases as breast cancer, coronary heart disease and HIV.

Keywords: Cancer; Cardiovascular disease; Chronic diseases; HIV/AIDS; Psychosocial risk; Stress responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Disease Management*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors