Is There a Future for Behavioral Scientists in Academic Family Medicine?

Johanna Shapiro, Ph.D., Yves Talbot, M.D.

This article examines the issue of whether nonphysician teachers of behavioral science have a long-term future in academic family medicine. While the question is answered in the affirmative, several sources of threat to the special relationship between family medicine and behavioral scientists are investigated. Various formulations of this working relationship are considered, and a trilateral clinical model is proposed, which emphasizes collaboration regarding multiproblem patients; the establishment of interdisciplinary research endeavors; and the integration of the role of therapist/consultant to the system, which will provide a counterpoint perspective to the traditional medical world view through ongoing commentary and dialogue. The article concludes with a recommendation that opportunities for participation and influence be available to behavioral scientists within the system of academic family medicine.

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