The Department of Behavioral Medicine is an interdisciplinary field of medicine concerned with the integration of knowledge in the biological, behavioral, psychological, and social sciences relevant to health and illness. Therefore, the Department embraced the expertise from diverse field including psychological sciences, anthropology, sociology and clinical psychiatry. The available services is one of the best in the country, and was one of the very first to provide modern diagnosis and research on behavioral medicine. On its application to clinical services, the Department provides state-of-the-art treatment and care of psychiatric disorders, much of it based on the innovative research done by our faculty. The Department has fully functioning services that address and furnish health care need relevant for all developmental milestones: ‘cradle to the grave’. Thus, the Department caters the need for child and adolescence mental health services, general adult mental health services as well as geriatric psychiatry. On this ground, the department strives, as an academic and clinical department, for excellence in learning, teaching and research and to be the flagship department in its field in Oman and the region. There is ample evidence to suggest that most illnesses, whether physical or psychiatric, are invariably influenced by biology, psychological and social factors and so this biopsychosocial approach is necessary. In this context, in the approach to learning, teaching and research, efforts are made to determine how biopsychosocial factors are central to the predisposition, onset, course and outcome of most disorders.
Whilst communicable diseases continue to be a source of attrition in a country like Oman, there is also the ‘silent epidemic’ of non-communicable diseases, often precipitated and exacerbated by an individual’s behaviour and lifestyle which can result in serious distress and often fatal diseases. Research in the Department has specifically focused on the psychosocial determinants of health and ill-health since biological sciences alone are not sufficient in the prevention of and intervention in matters related to disease. This has led Department researchers to establish cultural variations as a pillar of establishing psychological services in Oman. Research coming from this Department indicates that the incidence of psychological distress in Oman is common, with some minor differences in the incidence of the types of reaction.
We have come a long way since the time when the relevance of behavioural input in medical science was considered to be a 'luxury' only affordable in the industrialised part of the world. Now the question is not how relevant behavioural medicine is for Oman, but how Oman is implementing behavioural medicine in its healthcare infrastructure. Given the rising magnitude of non-communicable diseases, there is immense relevance in a scientific approach to the study of human behaviour.
Nasser Al Sibani
Head, Department of Behavioural Medicine