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About the course

In this instructor-led version of the course on Behavioral Medicine, you will learn about basic behavioral medicine concepts and explore how they can be applied to help people who need to change specific behaviors to attain better health and reduce the risk of illness. Working with “virtual patient scenarios” will give you a chance to test behavioral medicine interventions. You will also learn self-help tools based on behavioral medicine, for whatever you need to change in your life.


  • Anne H Berman, PhD is Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at Karolinska Institutet.
  • Sakari Suominen, MD, PhD is Professor of Public Health at the Nordic School of Public Health and Associate Professor of Behavioral Medicine at the University of Turku.

Teaching Assistants

  • Jens Fust
  • Sara Herring
  • Jonas Rafi


There are no prerequisites for this course. The course is designed to allow participation by all interested students.


This instructor-led version of the course will open on November 1 and will remain open till December 16. Assignments will be released along with course content. You will have until December 16 to complete your assignments.

  • Section 1: Health behaviors and motivation to change
  • Section 2: Stress and coping
  • Section 3: Sleep
  • Section 4: Innovation in behavioral medicine service delivery
  • Section 5: Physical activity
  • Section 6: Everyday behaviors

Overall learning outcomes:

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Use behavioral medicine concepts to understand what you see in your own individual and societal health contexts.
  2. Describe and apply interventions for health behavior change and methods of treating stress and sleep problems, increasing physical activity, and increasing behaviors that reduce the risk of infection.
  3. Apply what you have learned in the course in your work with patients/clients, or with friends and family as well as yourself.

Topics section by section

Section 1: Health behaviors and motivation to change

  • What is Motivational Interviewing (MI)?
  • Basic tools of MI
  • Processes of MI
  • Assignment: Sleep diary

Section 2: Stress and coping

  • Introduction to stress
  • Stress - physical and mental effects
  • Interventions for treating mental stress effects
  • Optional: Basic models of work health
  • Virtual patient assignment section 2

Section 3: Sleep

  • The science of sleep
  • Diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders
  • Facilitating sleep
  • Virtual patient assignment section 3


  • Introduction to innovation
  • Organizational innovation in service delivery
  • Treatment innovations in behavioral medicine 

Section 5: Physical activity

  • Physical activity and health
  • Physical activity promotion
  • Exercise prescription
  • Assignment: Test physical activity prescription

Section 6: Everyday behaviors

  • Everyday behaviors and interpersonal communicable disease control
  • Hand hygiene
  • Responsible sexual behavior
  • Responsible alcohol use

Course project assignment: Create a story of behavior change

The final assignment, is published in the last section in the courseware menu to the left.



Each section provides a mix of videos, quizzes and other learning activities. There are no timelines on the assignments for this course. However, in order to be awarded a certificate you will need to have completed all the learning activities, assignments and the final project by December 16, 2016.


The cutoff to earn a certificate will be a 70% grade. Grades are calculated as explained below.

Overall Grade

  • Learning activities: 60%
  • Course assignments: 30%
  • Course project assignment: 10%

Grades are earned in the following way:

Learning activities

In each section you will be asked to answer questions relating to the contents of the video lectures and supplementary material in the form of open access scientific articles. We will drop the two learning activities with the lowest scores. These exercises are worth 60% of your final grade. In some cases you will be asked to post comments in discussion forums. Please note that although staff will look in from time to time these forums will not otherwise be moderated. Please help each other if you can answer questions about the course that you see in the forums.

Course assignments

You will be given 3 course assignments in the first 5 sections of the course. These assignments vary in nature depending on the theme of the week, however 2 of these assignments require you to explore our virtual patient. These assignments are worth 30% of your final grade. 

Final course assignment

In the last section of the course you will be asked to create your own virtual patient. This final assignment will be worth 10% of your final grade.

Certificate of completion

For those of you who have opted for the Verified Certificate you need to achieve a final completion rate of 70% or more. EdX will issue the certificate under the name of KIX and you will be able to download it from the student dashboard. The certificate will indicate only that you have passed the course; i.e., no specific final grade will be shown. Learn more about the verified certificate here.

Participation:  In some cases you will be asked whether you have posted on the discussion boards or completed an assignment. The course is based on an the edX Terms of service agreement and we rely on students to be honest in their responses, even if you are only auditing the course. 

NOTE: Not all videos and discussion boards are required.  Material that is optional is clearly labelled so.  Similarly, discussion boards that are not required will simply not be followed by a question asking if you posted.