Behavioral and Social Science Foundations for the Health Professions

Instructor Victor Strecher, Ph.D.

Dr. Dean Ornish, one of the nation's most respected authorities on cardiovascular health, has a message for U-M undergraduates.

"Clinicians who are not interested in learning about the behavioral and social sciences will be replaced by an iPhone app." - Dean Ornish

The future of health care and medicine is in understanding what makes people tick, not just what makes them sick.

Whether or not you choose to enter one of the health professions, an innovative new 4-credit course by Public Health Professor Vic Strecher will improve your understanding of the behavioral and social factors that influence health and disease, helping you make better decisions and changes in your own life, as well as providing a knowledge base and toolset for helping others.

The course begins with death and ends with life, and along the way covers topics such as motivation, confidence, willpower, environment, change agents, and the future... and much more.

How to sign up for PUBHLTH 300/HBHE 500

Who: PUBHLTH 300/HBHE 500 is open to all U-M students with at least sophomore standing.

When: The course meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. during the Winter 2015 term.

Where: The course meets in M1020 SPH2.

How: Register for PUBHLTH 300/HBHE 500 through Wolverine Access.* For complete information about registration procedures, visit Wolverine Access' online help, the printed schedule of classes, or the Registrar's Office website. To register for classes, you need a University uniqname and password. You will also need a registration appointment time. You will receive an e-mail notification of your appointment time on Wolverine Access.

*Special Instructions for undergraduates registering for PUBHLTH 300: In Wolverine Access, click on Backpack/Registration. Under the "Add Classes" tab select the radio button that says "class search" and click the search button. In the Class Search page, enter PUBHLTH in the "Course Subject" box and 300 in the "Course Number" box. This will then take you to a list of all open sections of PUBHLTH 300. Select the section you want to register for by clicking the radio button next to the section and hit next. Continue to follow the steps in Wolverine Access to complete your registration.

What you will learn in PUBHLTH 300/HBHE 500

After suffering a wrenching tragedy in his life, Dr. Strecher dedicated himself to helping one billion people find purpose in life. One of the ways he does this is through his teaching and the spreading influence of interactive learning:

While PUBHLTH 300/HBHE 500 is not just about purpose in life, the underpinnings of behavioral and social science in relation to health are directly connected to a sense of purpose. And we have a lot to learn about many interrelated topics.


What do castle walls and frogs have to do with health and purpose? Take PUBHLTH 300/HBHE 500 and find out.

>>> Course Syllabus (PDF)

Greater understanding

By the end of the course, students will possess greater understanding of the following areas in health behavior development, change, and decision-making: 

  1. Causes of death in the U.S. and the world
  2. Methods of determining causes of death and disease
  3. Risk and risk perception
  4. Approaches to helping and coping
  5. Theories and conceptual frameworks
  6. Measurement of psychosocial factors
  7. Motivation, self-efficacy and self-control
  8. Physical, social, cultural environments
  9. Clinician-patient communication
  10. Mass and interactive communication
  11. Information processing
  12. Roles of health care organizations, health plans, employers, schools, and governments
  13. Roles of health care reform and health informatics
  14. Roles of values affirmation, energy, and life purpose


Course topics, week-to-week, are:

This course isn't just reading and listening. Students will engage in the course through various models, one of which is Ignite! presentations.

Want to know more? Sign up today for PUBHLTH 300/HBHE 500. It just might change your life.
Or, it could at least keep you from being interchangeable with an iPhone app.

Enroll in PUBHLTH 300/HBHE 500: Sign up today


Learn more about your instructor, Dr. Strecher

Victor StrecherDr. Victor J. Strecher is Director Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. He has an M.P.H. and Ph.D. in Health Behavior & Health Education from the University of Michigan. After beginning his career in the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina, Dr. Strecher moved back to the University of Michigan, where he became Professor of Health Behavior & Health Education and Director of Cancer Prevention and Control at the Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Strecher also founded the University of Michigan's Center for Health Communications Research (CHCR): a multidisciplinary team of behavioral scientists, physicians, computer engineers, instructional designers, graphic artists, and students from a wide variety of disciplines. For over a decade, it has conducted research studies and demonstration projects of computer-tailoring and interactive multimedia programs.

In 1998, Dr. Strecher founded HealthMedia, Inc.-- a company designed to create interactive health communications solutions for medical care, employer, pharmaceutical, and government settings. HealthMedia is now a Johnson & Johnson company.

View the Course Flyer (PDF) below.

Flyer link