Many components of total health converge in Behavioral Health and Aging. Research methods include genome-wide association studies, epidemiology, comparative effectiveness, cost effectiveness, and other health services research. Research topics include individual health conditions, but also foster connections across behavioral and mental health, including: alcohol and drug studies; chronic pain and prescription drug abuse; innovative models of care for alcohol, drugs, depression, and bipolar disorder; behavioral health and violence prevention; metabolic, cardiovascular, and inflammatory predictors of cognitive aging and dementia; physical activity and healthy aging; and clinical trial methodology for alternative and complementary medicine and therapies.
Alcohol and other substances, including marijuana, tobacco and opioids, have high prevalence in the general population and in health systems. They span the continuum from unhealthy levels of use or consumption to dependence, and are related to many negative medical and mental health outcomes. Researchers study epidemiology and interventions in primary care and specialty chemical dependency treatment programs for adolescents and adults.
Mental health problems span a continuum from mild and moderate severity to serious mental illness. They include a range of disorders, such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Researchers study a range of interventions in psychiatry and in primary care, as well as epidemiologic studies. A major focus of the research is on interventions for mental health and related behavioral health problems delivered by information technology in various applications.
Pain, both acute and chronic, affects all of us at some point in our lives but can be debilitating for patients who suffer from a variety of chronic pain syndromes. Researchers who work in the pain field are attempting to better understand the causes of pain, identify effective treatment approaches, including both conventional and integrative interventions, and understand the risks associated with commonly used pain therapeutics.
Human beings are living longer than ever before and the science of aging is rapidly evolving. Researchers in aging study the epidemiology of many age-associated conditions including dementia, cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer's disease, as well as predictors of longevity and successful aging. Ethnic disparities and early life predictors of aging outcomes, as well as aging successfully in the context of chronic diseases, is a large focus of research.
Research Program on Genes, Environment, and Health is one of the largest research projects in the United States to examine the genetic and environmental factors that influence common diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, Alzheimer's disease, asthma, and many others. This new knowledge has the potential to improve health and health care delivery by leading to new and improved diagnosis and treatment of disease.