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Am J Prev Med. 2015 Sep;49(3 Suppl 2):S184-93. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.05.015.

Enhancing the Evidence for Behavioral Counseling: A Perspective From the Society of Behavioral Medicine.

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Department of Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York. Electronic address:
School of Public Health, University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee.
School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Society of Behavioral Medicine, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Department of Medicine, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, New York; New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York, New York.


U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) clinical guidelines at present rarely assign the highest grade recommendation to behavioral counseling interventions for chronic disease prevention or risk reduction because of concerns about the certainty and quality of the evidence base. As a result, the broad integration of behavioral counseling interventions in primary care remains elusive. Thus, there is an urgent need for novel perspectives on how to generate the highest-quality and -certainty evidence for primary care-focused behavioral counseling interventions. As members of the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM)--a multidisciplinary scientific organization committed to improving population health through behavior change--we review the USPSTF mandate and current recommendations for behavioral counseling interventions and provide a perspective for the future that calls for concerted and coordinated efforts among SBM, USPSTF, and other organizations invested in the rapid and wider uptake of beneficial, feasible, and referable primary care-focused behavioral counseling interventions. This perspective highlights five areas for further development, including (1) behavioral counseling-focused practice-based research networks; (2) promotion of USPSTF evidence standards and the increased use of pragmatic RCT design; (3) quality control and improvement procedures for behavioral counseling training; (4) systematic research on effective primary care-based collaborative care models; and (5) methodologic innovations that capitalize on disruptive technologies and healthcare transformation. Collective efforts to improve the health of all Americans in the 21st century and beyond must ensure that effective, feasible, and referable behavioral counseling interventions are embedded in modern primary care practice.

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