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New "Mind-Body" Center Established

A new initiative, the Center for the Study of Health Beliefs and Behavior, was recently funded by the National Institute of Aging and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. Directed by Howard Leventhal, PhD, the Center's overall purpose is the development of models for improving communication among practitioners, clients and families to facilitate quality health outcomes. The "mind-body" focus targets the relationships among cognitions, emotions, personality, social relationships and health and health behavior. Three major projects will be pursued: "Expert System for Inferring Patient Illness and Treatment Models"; "Self-Regulation and Self-Management in Older Asthmatics"; and "Disease Models, Psychosocial Factors and End-of-Life Planning." These projects seek to improve an understanding of the cognitive and affective processes underlying older individuals' experiences with chronic illness; translate the findings from the cognitive/affective sciences into the clinical context; and test and disseminate theory-based interventions based on an overlap of common-sense models of illness and treatments held by clients and families with biopsychosocial models of illness and treatment. Various methodologies will be used in the research including randomized clinical trials, observation of provider practices, cohert designs and qualitative methods. The ultimate vision of the Center is to improve the bi-directional flow of communication among practitioners, clients and families, increase shared decision-making, and insure the implementation of practice guidelines.

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