Defining the Field of Behavioral Medicine: A Collaborative Endeavor

Joost Dekker, Adrienne Stauder, Frank J. Penedo

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Purpose: To respond to comments on our proposal for an update of the definition and scope of behavioral medicine. Methods: We identify common themes in the comments and provide a response. Results: We discuss the relationship of behavioral medicine to other disciplines and fields, the scope of behavioral medicine, and issues related to the application of behavioral medicine. Conclusion: Based on the comments of our esteemed colleagues and our reflection on those comments, we now offer the following refined definition and scope of behavioral medicine. ‘Behavioral medicine can be defined as the field characterized by the collaboration among multiple disciplines concerned with the development and integration of biomedical and behavioral knowledge relevant to health and disease, and the application of this knowledge to prevention, health promotion, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and care. The scope of behavioral medicine extends from bio-behavioral mechanisms (i.e. the interaction among biomedical, psychological, social, societal, cultural and environmental processes related to health and disease), to clinical diagnosis and intervention, and to public health’. We propose to use this refined definition and scope as the starting point for seeking further input from the ISBM member societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-24
Number of pages4
JournalInternational journal of behavioral medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • Behavioral medicine
  • Definition
  • Scope

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