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Social Ecology and Behavioral Medicine: Implications for Training, Practice, and Policy


Social ecology offers a conceptual framework for understanding the etiology of multiple health problems and a basis for designing broad-gauge educational, therapeutic, and policy interventions to enhance personal and community well-being. Implications of social ecology for behavioral medicine are considered in relation to the development of diagnostic and therapeutic practices, professional training programs, and health policies implemented at municipal, state, and national levels. By influencing the training and practices of healthcare professionals and the decisions of corporate and community leaders, behavioral medicine can expand the scope and impact of future interventions beyond the health gains achievable through provision of direct services to patient populations. Potential barriers to establishing ecologically based health programs and policies and directions for research at the interface of behavioral medicine, social ecology, and public health are discussed.

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