Although behavioral science training is an essential component of family practice residency education, there have been few evaluations of its effects. In this study, selected behaviors of senior residents and their patients in two different family practice residency programs were compared. One program emphasized behavioral science, the other did not. Residents in the more behaviorally oriented program had more positive attitudes toward both social factors in illness and the importance of a warm physician-patient relationship. In addition, these residents claimed to know more about non-pharmacologic treatments for depression and anxiety and felt more confident in their ability to handle them than their less behaviorally trained counterparts. In regard to patient care, patients of residents in the program which emphasized behavioral science were more likely to receive a psychosocial diagnosis and resident counseling or mental health referral than patients of residents in the program which did not. On a patient satisfaction questionnaire, patients of the two programs differed on only one subscale which concerned convenience of care. Although these early results are encouraging, behavioral science training needs continuing clarification and evaluation of its goals and accomplishments.
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