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College of Science & Mathematics

Embracing the Biopsychosocial Model in Patient Treatments


Dr. Suzanne Bennett Johnson presented her lecture, "Medicine's Paradigm Shift: The Case for Integrated Care," on November 9, 2012

The College welcomed guest lecturer, Dr. Suzanne Bennett Johnson, on November 9, 2012, as the second part of the Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series this fall.  Johnson, current president of the American Psychological Association (APA), visited Rowan to speak about paradigm shifts within medicine and how these shifts affect the need for models of integrated care. Dr. Johnson began her talk by defining the biomedical model of medicine as focusing on disease by assuming that physical symptoms are caused by a biological defect. The biomedical model has resulted in important contributions to medicine including sanitation, antibiotics and this rise of the pharmaceutical industry, decline in infectious disease, and increased life expectancy. Despite these successes, a significant limitation of the biomedical model is the separation of physical and mental health. As a result, priority is given to physical disease and treatment and mental or behavioral problems are devalued or ignored.  By the end of the 20th century, medicine was on the verge of a paradigm shift as a function of the changing nature of disease, rising health care costs, increasing recognition of the role of provider and patient behavior, and the failure to adequately address mental health problems in this country. This paradigm shift resulted in the adoption of a biopsychosocial model. The goal of the biopsychosocial model is patient well-being, which is related to multiple factors, not only biology and physiology. In the biopsychosocial model, treatments may be behavioral, biological or environmental and prevention is a focus. Dr. Johnson concluded her talk by discussing the implications of the biopsychosocial model on provider training, care delivery systems, and patient health. 

To view the presentation and the supporting data for Dr. Johnson’s lecture, visit

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