• Relevant evidence-based articles and reports in the literature

  • Presentations to the committee by content experts and medical school representatives

  • Literature and other materials from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the Liaison Committee on Medical Education

  • Considerations related to the health of the public, driven mainly by root causes of morbidity and mortality

  • The gap between what is known and what is actually done in practice

Following extensive deliberations, the committee used a modified Delphi process to prioritize this initial list. (A detailed description of this process is included in Appendix A.) Committee members rated each of the topics on the list using a scale system, and then assigned each high, medium, or low priority based on its mean score and standard deviation. This list was further refined and finalized using the collective and individual experience of the committee as experts in medical school curriculum development and reform in the behavioral and social sciences. The low priorities were then discarded, and the remaining 26 topics were categorized as top, high, or medium priority. The results of this process constitute the committee’s recommendation for those behavioral and social science topics that should be included in medical school curricula. In the committee’s view, the 20 topics ranked top and high must be included in medical school curricula and were therefore combined into one high-priority group. The 6 medium-priority topics are also important and would significantly enhance the education of medical students. Inclusion of the medium priorities, as well as the depth of teaching and evaluation, is dependent upon the needs of the individual medical school.

The final listing of topics, presented in Table 3-1, is organized so as to have meaning for medical school curriculum committees. The 26 recommended topics fall into the following 6 general domains of knowledge:1

  • 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.


The order in which the various domains are listed is random, and does not reflect the committee’s view of their relative importance.

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