The field of behavioral medicine has long used knowledge about human behavior to help address a range of health issues, from obesity to HIV. It also stands to unlock the full population health potential of clinical genetics and genomics — but only if there is a concerted effort to integrate the two fields, according to a new editorial co-authored by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher.
“Research in areas such as decision making, health behavior change, communication science, social and health inequities, and implementation science has much to contribute and stands to elevate the visibility and impact of genetic discoveries,” wrote Dr. Catherine Wang, associate professor of community health sciences at BUSPH, and other members of a Society of Behavioral Medicine working group in their American Journal of Human Genetics editorial.
“There has never been a better time to promote such integration,” they wrote, pointing to the growing and ever-evolving communication, decision-making, and implementation challenges posed by genetic and genomic developments. “Tackling these questions is essential if genomics-informed innovation is to have public health impact, particularly given that population-level genetic screening can be perceived as competing with other essential public-health priorities.”
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