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Training grant targets behavioral and social factors linked to health
Date:2/28/2012

It is estimated that half of all deaths in the United States are linked to behavioral and social factors such as smoking, diet and physical inactivity. Despite these causal links, of the $2 trillion spent annually on health care in the U.S., only 5 percent of that is devoted to addressing behavioral and social risk factors.

The MU School of Medicine will enhance training in behavioral and social sciences with a new $500,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health. The awardwill help medical students learn how to provide culturally competent care, address public health issues and become lifelong learners who are committed to professional development.

"When I went to medical school, I was trained that my job as a physician was to understand my patient's illness, determine a diagnosis and recommend a treatment," said Linda Headrick, MD, senior associate dean for education and faculty development at MU's medical school. "Now, my job doesn't stop there. In order to be an effective physician, I need to understand all factors as determinants of health."

The Institute of Medicine reviewed curricula at U.S. medical schools and developed recommendations for better training in behavioral and social sciences. While MU has implemented many of the recommendations, the new NIH grant will help students further interact with patients of different backgrounds and address social and behavioral factors that are linked to health outcomes.

For example, MU medical students are already exposed to clinical simulations that use bilingual actors who pretend to be patients. The actors simulate various health conditions, share cultural beliefs and sometimes communicate with students via an interpreter. The exercise builds communication skills so students can adapt better to patients with different languages and backgrounds. The new NIH grant will help MU's medical school make similar learningopportunities available more often during the four yea
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Contact: Michael Muin
muinm@health.missouri.edu
573-884-7541
University of Missouri School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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