What is Behavioral Medicine?
Behavioral medicine is an interdisciplinary field of medicine concerned with the development and integration of knowledge in the biological, behavioral, psychological, and social sciences relevant to health and illness. The term is often used interchangeably, and incorrectly, with health psychology, whereas the practice of behavioral medicine also includes applied psychophysiological therapies such as biofeedback, hypnosis, and biobehavioral therapy of physical disorders, aspects of occupational therapy, rehabilitation medicine, and physiatry, as well as preventive medicine. One of its academic forebears is the field of psychosomatic medicine. Practitioners of behavioral medicine include appropriately qualified nurses, psychologists, and physicians.
More recently, it has expanded its area of practice to interventions with providers of medical services, in recognition of the fact that the behavior of providers can have a determinative effect on patients' outcomes. For example, there exists a large interest in communication behaviors between clinician and patient within the field. Other areas include correcting perceptual bias in diagnostic behavior; remediating clinicians' attitudes that impinge negatively upon patient-treatment; and addressing clinicians' behaviors that promote disease-development and illness-maintenance in patients, whether within a malpractice framework or not.
The International Society of Behavioral Medicine is the leading non-profit organization in the field, with many national daughter-organizations. Their yearly conferences have become a focus for professional and academic development.