Proposal for an Update of the Definition and Scope of Behavioral Medicine

Joost Dekker, Adrienne Stauder, Frank J. Penedo

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: We aim to provide an update of the definition and scope of behavioral medicine in the Charter of ISBM, as the present version was developed more than 25 years ago. Methods: We identify issues which need clarification or updating. This leads us to propose an update of the definition and scope of behavioral medicine. Results: Issues in need of clarification or updating include the scope of behavioral medicine (biobehavioral mechanisms, clinical diagnosis and intervention, and prevention and health promotion); research as an essential characteristic of all three areas of behavioral medicine; the application of behavioral medicine; the terminology of behavioral medicine as a multidisciplinary field; and the relationship and distinction between behavioral medicine, mental health, health psychology, and psychosomatic medicine. Conclusion: We propose the following updated definition and scope of behavioral medicine: “Behavioral medicine can be defined as the multidisciplinary field 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 biobehavioral mechanisms (i.e., the interaction of biomedical processes with psychological, social, societal, cultural, and environmental processes), to clinical diagnosis and intervention, and to public health.”

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational journal of behavioral medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • Behavioral medicine
  • Definition
  • Scope

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