Institute for the Study of
Healthcare Organizations & Transactions


Health and illness are not just biological events.  In a very real sense, health and illness are things that people do.  A great deal of interest lately revolves around the stress-disease connection.  That is, the idea that stress can cause disease directly, or can predispose people to disease by altering certain neural, endocrine, and immunological functions. There is also a great deal of interest in behavioral medicine -- the use of behavioral techniques, rather than medication and surgery, to alter or prevent disease processes. The Institute is interested in these topics, especially in the nature of "psychosomatic" illness and in the use of such techniques as hypnosis and placebos in treatment.

Click on our page Hypnosis to read more about health and hypnosis.

Click on our page, Anesthesia to read more about behavioral aspects of surgery and pain.

Click on our page, Illness Behavior to read more about multiple somatic complaints among a young adult population.

Our most recent page takes a look at a topic that is of growing interest--the use of hypnosis for pain relief.  Click on our page, Hypnosis_Pain_Newlook, to read about it.

Finally, click on our Hot Topics read about health and behavior issues that are right out of the headlines.

health_and_behavior_triad.jpg (19139 bytes)The Institute is mainly interested in the behavior of various participants in the healthcare system.  This behavior, as illustrated by the graphic to the left, can be examined from various perspectives. Click on the graphic to see an enlarged version.

From the perspective of the individual consumer of healthcare services, the maintenance of health and the proper prevention and treatment of disease requires people to engage in healthy behaviors, consult health care professionals when they experience the symptoms of disease, and participate actively in both the treatment of acute conditions and the proper management of chronic ones. (Click on our page, Adherence to Treatment, to find resources and references on this topic.)

Health behavior, as a general term, covers a wide variety of different kinds of activities observed at the individual level of analysis:

Health behavior, specifically, consists of those behaviors that people engage in while well, in order to maintain health and prevent disease.
Illness behavior occurs when people notice the symptoms of illness in themselves and others.
Sick-role behavior occurs when people have consulted a healthcare professional, received a diagnosis, and begun a course of treatment.
Impaired-role behavior occurs when an acute episode of illness turns to a chronic course, and the person has to adjust to a more permanent condition.


But health behavior goes beyond the behavior of individual consumers, and includes the interpersonal, social and cultural levels of analysis.

The behaviors of significant others, family members, friends, employers, and co-workers is also relevant to what the individual does to maintain health and treat disease.
The behavior of healthcare providers is also relevant, both with respect to their interactions with patients and their interactions with each other, both within and between professions.
And so are the organizations in which healthcare transactions occur. Hospitals and clinics, professional societies, regulatory agencies, and insurance carriers all play an active role in determining what healthcare services are provided, to whom, for how long, how treatment will be evaluated, and who will pay the bill.

As its very name suggests, the Institute is especially interested in studying various stakeholders in the healthcare system relate to each other, and how the behavior of each stakeholder is affected by the presence and activities of the others.


John F. Kihlstrom, PhD

Copyright 2000 Institute for the Study of Healthcare Organizations & Transactions

Last modified:  04.08.2010 02:58 PM