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Improving Medical Education: Enhancing the Behavioral and Social Science Content of Medical School Curricula
Mind–body interactions in health and disease—focuses on the four primary pathways of disease (biological, behavioral, psychological, and social). Students need to recognize and understand the many complex interactions among these pathways that may be compromising a patient’s physical and/or mental health.
Patient behavior—centers on behavioral pathways to promoting health and preventing disease. Educating medical students about behaviors that pose a risk to health will better equip them to provide appropriate interventions and influence patient behavior.
Physician role and behavior—emphasizes the physician’s personal background and beliefs as they may affect patient care, as well as the physician’s own well-being.
Physician–patient interactions—focuses on the ability to communicate effectively, which, as noted above, is a critical component of the practice of medicine.
Social and cultural issues in health care—addresses what physicians need to know and do to provide appropriate care to patients with differing social, cultural, and economic backgrounds.
Health policy and economics—includes those topics to which medical students should be exposed to help them understand the health care system in which they will eventually practice (although additional material regarding the U.S. health care system should be presented in the residency years).
Recommendation 2. Provide an integrated 4-year curriculum in the behavioral and social sciences. Medical students should be provided with an integrated curriculum in the behavioral and social sciences throughout the 4 years of medical school. At a minimum, this curriculum should include the high-priority items delineated in this report and summarized inTable ES-1. Medical students should demonstrate competency in the following domains:
Mind–body interactions in health and disease
Physician role and behavior
Social and cultural issues in health care
Health policy and economics
Strategies for Incorporating Behavioral and Social Sciences into the Medical School Curriculum
The committee found that many barriers exist to incorporating the behavioral and social sciences into medical school curricula. Incorporating this material is a