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Behavioral science at the crossroads in public health: Extending horizons, envisioning the future


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  • Glass, Thomas A.
  • McAtee, Matthew J.
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    The social and behavioral sciences are at a crossroads in public health. In this paper, we attempt to describe a path toward the further integration of the natural and behavioral sciences with respect to the study of behavior and health. Three innovations are proposed. First, we extend and modify the "stream of causation" metaphor along two axes: time, and levels of nested systems of social and biological organization. Second, we address the question of whether 'upstream' features of social context are causes of disease, fundamental or otherwise. Finally, we propose the concept of a risk regulator to advance the study of behavior and health in populations. To illustrate the potential of these innovations, we develop a multilevel framework for the study of health behaviors and obesity in social and biological context.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 62 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 7 (April)
    Pages: 1650-1671

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:62:y:2006:i:7:p:1650-1671

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    Keywords: Behavior Causality Epidemiology-history Epidemiology-theory Social class Social factors;


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    Cited by:
    1. Worsley, Anthony & Wang, Wei C. & Hunter, Wendy, 2013. "Gender differences in the influence of food safety and health concerns on dietary and physical activity habits," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 184-192.
    2. Reczek, Corinne & Umberson, Debra, 2012. "Gender, health behavior, and intimate relationships: Lesbian, gay, and straight contexts," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(11), pages 1783-1790.
    3. Clark, Alexander M., 2013. "What are the components of complex interventions in healthcare? Theorizing approaches to parts, powers and the whole intervention," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 185-193.
    4. Martin, Molly A. & Lippert, Adam M., 2012. "Feeding her children, but risking her health: The intersection of gender, household food insecurity and obesity," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(11), pages 1754-1764.
    5. Umberson, Debra & Liu, Hui & Mirowsky, John & Reczek, Corinne, 2011. "Parenthood and trajectories of change in body weight over the life course," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(9), pages 1323-1331.
    6. Kane, Jennifer B. & Frisco, Michelle L., 2013. "Obesity, school obesity prevalence, and adolescent childbearing among U.S. young women," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 108-115.


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