Summary for press
of the 12th International Congress of Behavioral Medicine
in Budapest, August 29 – September 1, 2012
Budapest hosted the 12th International Congress of Behavioral Medicine (ICBM) this year, a conference that is organized biennially since 1990. This prestigious scientific event was held in a beautiful environment, the Hilton Hotel in the Castle District, respectively the House of Hungarian Culture on August 29 - September 1, 2012. The theme of the 12th Congress Behavioral Medicine was „From Basic Science to Clinical Investigation and Public Health”. The local organisers of the international conference were the Hans Selye Hungarian Society of Behavioural Science and Behavioural Medicine (President: Dr. Adrienne Stauder) and the Institute of Behavioural Sciences at Semmelweis University (Director: Prof. Ferenc Túry) and co-workers of the Institute (Dr. Zoltán Cserháti, Dr. Márta Novák, Csilla Raduch, Dr. Jenő Lőrincz, Noémi Somorjai, and Prof. Maria Kopp who passed away unexpectedly in April).
The ambitious program of the international scientific event attracted researchers from all over the world, altogether 50 countries were represented. The 850 presentations, including keynote and master lectures, symposia, paper sessions and posters centred around 26 topics in the field of behavioural medicine. It was a real challenge for the 730 participants to choose between presentations in the 8 parallel sessions, the only exception being the master lectures given by invited speakers, only two master lectures running parallelly.
Behavioural medicine – in terms of bio-psycho-social approach – examines the mental, psychological and social processes that play a role in the development and treatment of illnesses, and elaborates preventive and therapeutic interventions. The inappropriate life-style (lack of exercise, excessive consumption of fat and carbohydrates, chronic stress) and addictions (smoking, alcohol abuse, drug abuse) play crucial role in the development and therapy of chronic diseases of great public health importance. The topics of the conference were greatly diversified due to the interdisciplinary and integrative nature of the discipline: cardiovascular diseases, tumourous diseases, obesity and diabetes, smoking, behavioral aspects of musculoskeletal, functional, and somatoform symptoms, psychosocial, gender and age related factors in the development and treatment of certain illnesses, the psychophysiological and epigenetic basis of human behavior, stress and stress management, health promotion and illness prevention on individual, community and population level.
The leading experts who attended the congress (e.g. Jean-Claude MBanya, President of the International Diabetes Federation, WHO expert advisor, Susan Bennett Johnson, President of the American Psychological Association, Neil Schneiderman, founding president of ISBM, who was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the ISBM, Brian Oldenburg, leader of the „Global health, global health policy” international program) stressed the importance of introducing evidence-based behavioral medicine into everyday practice. They also emphasised the importance of interdisciplinarity and international cooperation, respectively strengthening the relationship with health politicians, in order to consider more widely scientific evidences political decision-making.
Several examples for good practice were outlined, e.g. smoking was reduced in the US by applying both knowledge dissemination and legislation. The odds of smoking cessation are six times higher among those who receive professional help in comparison to those who attempt to quit smoking without assistance. Education and screening successfully stopped the spread of HIV in Africa, considering especially the state funded programs supporting pregnant women. The guidelines of the European Society of Cardiology (JOINT ESC GUIDELINES European Heart Journal, 2012, 33, 1635–1701) include the application of behavioral medicine methods in order to enhance life style changes and decrease psychosocial risks. Evidence-based cost-effective structured behavioral medicine interventions significantly improve the health status, ability to work, and survival rates of patients who underwent myocardial infarction or coronary bypass surgery. There are counter-examples as well, e.g. due to health care economics the routine screening for cervical cancer ceased in Bulgaria, leading to a dramatical increase in morbidity and mortality related to cervical cancer in a few years.
Work stress is a mid-level evidence-based cardiovascular risk factor. This is the focus of several leading experts from Japan, such as Norito Kawakami, the Past President of the ISBM, since work overload related health deterioration is a growing problem even in Japan, which is primarily known for its best life prospects and successful economics. Work stress is an essential problem also in Hungary, and the employment protection legislations enforce the assessment and reduction of work related psychosocial risks. The conference program included presentations on the development of a reliable screening tool for psychosocial risk assessment within the frame of an international cooperation, as well as the stress-management behavioral medicine program applied successfully in Hungary, too. Several presentations focused on the health status of health care workers, since the great physical and emotional overload leads not only to burnout and health deterioration, but to low quality health provision, and it also increases the prevalence of faults and errors.
There is also increasing knowledge about biological basis of behavior regulation, as well about the role of epigenetic effects and inflammatory mediators. One of the master lecturers at the conference was the Hungarian academician Tamás Freund, whose clear and expressive lecture on the complex issue of neural transmission of stimuli was most successful. His research on the role of cannabionoid receptors and endocannabinoids in the development of anxiety and epilepsy symptoms are pioneering, and suggest new treatment possibilities.
In the frame of the conference the local and international experts commemorated Prof. Maria Kopp, the prominent charismatic researcher in the field of behavioral sciences, who most actively organized this conference until her sudden death in April.
It was Prof. Maria Kopp who initiated the exposition of Hungarian Geniuses of Science, which was designed by the museologist Vilmos Gál, and was realized with the support of the Hungarian National Museum and the Hungarian National Tourist Office. This exhibition brought closer to the conference participants some of the eminent scientists of Hungarian origin, whose names are associated with famous inventions and important scientific results.
A Hungarian researcher from the Semmelweis University Budapest, Dr. Adrienne Stauder, co-worker of Prof. Maria Kopp, was elected President Elect of the International Society of Behavioral Medicine (ISBM) for the term 2014-2016. Another important event was the presentation of the Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine during the conference. This encyclopedia published by Springer and edited by Marc Gellman and Rick Turner fills a niche in behavioral medicine providing up-to-date summary of related knowledge, concepts and methods. The four-volume manual will be accessible on-line and electronic format, which enables quick and effective search, respectively facilitates information updates (http://www.springer.com/medicine/book/978-1-4419-1004-2).
The ICBM2012 international congress was supported by the patronage of
Zoltán Balog, Minister of Human Resources
Dr. József Pálinkás, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Dr. Miklós Réthelyi, Former - Minister, Ministry of National Resources
Dr. Zsolt Semjén, Deputy Prime Minister of Hungary
Dr. Ágoston Szél, Rector, Semmelweis University
Dr. Tivadar Tulassay, Past - Rector, Semmelweis University
The highlights mentioned above are only a few from a whole range of exciting topics and lectures presenting new findings. The conference abstracts has been published in the Supplementum of the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine (IJBM). The detailed program of the conference is still available on the conference webpage: http://www.icbm2012.com/
Conference summary for the press edited by
Dr. Adrienne Stauder, President of the Hungarian Society of Behavioral Sciences and Behavioral Medicine