BEHS 640 Behavioral Sciences and Medicine

This course aims to contribute to the education of skilled physicians. Students will be able to integrate biomedical, clinical, and behavioral knowledge, leading to improved patient well-being and community health. There are three modules:

Module 1: Fundamental Principles of Human Behavior and Development

Module 1 focuses upon fundamental principles of human behavior and development. Theories of normal lifespan development and psychopathology are examined. The importance of effective communication within the doctor-patient relationship is emphasized in terms of patient compliance and positive health outcomes. An overview of models of human behavior, which include behavioral, cognitive, and biological approaches are provided. Lecture topics include psychopathology/diagnosis, biological/genetic bases of behavior, brain-behavior relationships, cognitive-behavioral therapy, behavioral medicine, sexual functioning and identity, psychological assessment, suicide, and psychopharmacological intervention.

A biopsychosocial approach to patient care is promoted, including the role of cultural factors within the doctor-patient encounter. There is an emphasis on development of cultural sensitivity and competence in provision of care. The role of the family and patient’s social network are explored, and such life-disrupting disorders as substance abuse, domestic violence and child abuse are discussed with reference to the physician’s role in detection and intervention.

Module 2: Quantitative Principles of Medicine

An introduction to biostatistics provides fundamental concepts that quantify variation and uncertainty. Clinical epidemiology involves concepts of epidemiology, preventive medicine and evidence-based medicine tailored to the needs of future clinicians. Emphasis is on recognizing patterns of disease occurrence and disease outcomes in human populations, using that information to decide on diagnostic strategy and therapeutic interventions, and applying sound scientific principles to patient care. Introduction to the concepts and practice of evidence-based medicine is provided with a special emphasis on the evaluation of complementary medicine techniques. Quantitative topics are enhanced with clinical examples from the medical literature, providing a transition from research findings to care of individual patients.

How behavior, environment and politics influence health in different societies is also considered—an international comparison of health systems is provided, and factors underlying existing disparities in health care are explored. Current issues of health care financing and delivery are discussed, along with changes in insurance systems, cost containment, and different types of medical practice.

Small Group Sessions

Small group sessions (six students per group) focus on topics introduced in lectures. Small group session format varies, and may involve discussion around case-based clinical videos, interpretation of clinical data, critical evaluation of medical research literature, or application of epidemiological principles to clinical decision making. Exam format is consistent with NBME guidelines.