Behavioral and Psychosomatic Medicine

Overview

Behavioral and Psychosomatic Medicine in the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry is comprised of two divisions: Behavioral Medicine, which is primarily a research division, and Consultation-Liaison (C-L) Psychiatry, which is predominantly a clinical service serving NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

Goals

  • To understand the contribution of psychological, psychosocial, and behavioral factors to the onset, progression, and management of physical and mental disease
  • To identify the relevant pathophysiological mechanisms linking psychological states to disease
  • To develop treatment interventions targeting these mechanisms

Current Research

Our research addresses the contribution of psychological, psychosocial, and behavioral factors to the onset, progression, and management of physical and mental disease; identifies the relevant pathophysiological mechanisms linking psychological states to disease; and develops interventions targeting these mechanisms. Projects range from societal to subcellular levels:

  • Studying the role the autonomic nervous system plays as a candidate mechanism linking psychological characteristics of depression and hostility to the pathophysiology of coronary artery disease
  • Integrating the fields of psychopathology, developmental psychobiology, and perinatal psychiatry to focus on the earliest influences on children’s developmental trajectories—those that happen in utero—and how to intervene early to prevent mental health problems
  • Combining basic biology, neuroscience, stress physiology, and mitochondrial medicine to explore conserved organizing principles of mitochondrial signal transduction, and examine the underlying mechanisms operating across levels of complexity from organelle to organism.

Programs and Centers

Consultation-Liaison Service

The mission of the C-L Service is to address the psychiatric issues of medical and surgical in- and out-patients at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and affiliated clinics, but faculty and trainees also pursue research and scholarship in several related domains, often in collaboration with colleagues in the Division of Behavioral Medicine and other research areas within the Department of Psychiatry. Our overarching goal is to improve care and outcomes for psychiatric and psychological problems co-morbid with or presenting as somatic disorders. Recent studies have examined a broad range of topics encompassed within this overarching goal. These include: the association of psychiatric and social history with adherence and morbidity in stem cell transplant patients; psychotherapy for depression in breast cancer patients; psychosocial factors affecting the use of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis; ethical issues in decisions to withdraw cardiac life support; depression and depression treatment in patients with heart disease; the effect of primary language on patients’ access to psychiatric consultation; depression and suicidal ideation in the medically ill; defining and measuring quality of care in psychiatric consultation services; and access to high quality end-of-life care for individuals with chronic, severe, and persistent mental illness.