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Division on Health
Howard Leventhal, Ph.D. directs the Division on Health. Dr. Leventhal has developed a comprehensive program for studying health and behavior throughout the life span from a social and biological as well as a psychological perspective.

The research of the division on emotion, cognition and illness representation has established a broad set of theoretical principles that comprise a theory of self regulation in the management of health threats. Investigators in the division have examined how people come to decide they are ill, the rules that appear to determine how people go about labeling somatic signs, how labels adopted affect the self care selected, which conditions cause help-seeking, and how emotional states and age-related changes in coping affect decision making.

The self regulation model is being used to generate useful interventions, such as procedures for managing painful and distressing medical treatments, strategies for increasing adherence with medications, the role of illness cognitions in monitoring the course of congestive heart failure, asthma and diabetes. Investigators are increasingly concerned with the co-existence of chronic, physical illnesses and depression. Many collaborative efforts focus on developing and testing theoretically based educational materials for enhancing individuals' understanding and adherence to effective self management for the control of chronic medical conditions. Research projects examine the interaction of self perceptions of illness with contextual factors including family perceptions and support, interactions with clinicians and institutional policies that shape the course of illness and health behavior.

Howard Leventhal, Ph.D.
Division Head