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Behavior plays key role in disease development and control, according to 10-year prospective review

WASHINGTON From daily health concerns such as smoking, exercise and diet, to serious diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and diabetes, evidence continues to mount that a wide variety of behavioral interventions are having a major influence in producing useful changes in the risk, management and outcome of many diseases and health problems. The progress of these interventions over the past 10 years is highlighted in a focused issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA), and provides more evidence that health, even physical health, is not all medical.

Health researcher's understanding of the role of behavioral factors in the development and course of disease has grown in scope in the past 10 years, with clear signs of the weakening of the boundaries between behavioral medicine and related fields, according to the authors of an introductory article. "In past decades, behavioral medicine was described in part by its differences from traditional clinical psychology and psychiatry. However, the future of the field may involve its unique ability to integrate the assessment and management of matters of mental and physical health in medical care."

Some of the specific issues addressed in the special issue include:

  • Immune Function and Health - Negative emotions can lower immunity and can lead to increased risk for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, arthritis and certain cancers. Researchers have found that the endocrine system serves as one central gateway for psychological influences on health; stress and depression can provoke the release of pituitary and adrenal hormones that have multiple effects on immune function and can lead to actual health changes.

  • Coronary Heart Disease - Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in the United States and over the past decade there has been an increasing amount of evidence regarding the role of p
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Contact: David Partenheimer
dpartenheimer@apa.org
202-336-5706
American Psychological Association
23-Jun-2002


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