Principles of behaviourism in relation to health
Behaviourism is a creative yet logical set of principles that can be applied to groups of people or to an individual to create change. Once accused of being reductionist, out of date, and of no practical utility, behaviourism is today the bedrock of modern psychology. It is simply a set of underlying principles that have been elucidated over more than 100 years as to how learning occurs, why we respond the way we do, and how we can attempt to change behaviours. In 1900 the top three causes of death were pneumonia, tuberculosis, and diarrhoea. Today, the leading causes of death for Australian males are heart disease, stroke, and cancer; for Australian females, heart disease, stroke, and dementia (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010). Medicine can now cure many purely organic maladies, but the diseases treated by the modern doctor are more commonly diseases in which personal behaviour plays a major role. The task of changing that behaviour often falls largely to the general practitioner, and, in some cases, to the specialist mental health workforce. Given the importance of effective behavioural change for the modern doctor, it seems that a good understanding of the science of behaviour and its underlying principles would be a valuable investment. With that in mind, this chapter aims to outline five key principles that every health practitioner should know about the science of behaviour.
Psychosocial Dimensions of Medicine
Psychology not elsewhere classified