1. Purpose
    1. Provide an opportunity for the student to demonstrate competence in professional activities related to health psychology and behavioral medicine. The primary focus is on scientific competence, but that need not be an exclusive focus.
    2. Although we believe it is legitimate for the examination to focus on a defined area of special interest to the student, there should also be an opportunity to probe for knowledge and skills in broader areas.
    3. The agreed-upon procedure is based on the concept that the comprehensive exams should assess important knowledge and skills that are relevant to future professional activities. Thus, students may choose to develop a review paper OR a grant proposal. Both tasks allow for examination of a student’s competence in a content area as well as his/her competence in writing in one of two important scientific formats.
  2. Content and Format
    1. Students may choose to write a critical review paper.
    2. Students may choose to prepare a grant proposal consistent with NIH guidelines.
    3. In either case, topics should be chosen primarily by the student in consultation with the chair of the guidance committee.

    4. Proposal
      1. The student will prepare a brief written proposal which will specify the chosen format, the title of the paper or grant proposal, a brief synopsis of the paper or grant’s aims, and the relation to the student’s dissertation. In addition, students should provide the title of the review paper and grant proposal they submitted to fulfill requirements in Psychology 842 and 843 (Behavioral Medicine Proseminar). This is to ensure that the comprehensive exam project is distinct from the dissertation and from prior projects involving similar knowledge demonstration.
      2. The student will submit the proposal by email to track chairs and the guidance committee chair. The guidance committee chair can then respond with his/her concurrence. The proposal should be approved in writing or email by
        1. the student
        2. the guidance committee chair
        3. one or both of the Behavioral Medicine Track Chairs
    5. Specific guidelines
      1. The review paper should be a scholarly review of a topic in behavioral medicine/health psychology. It should represent a contribution to the literature in that it critiques existing studies, integrates and interprets results and proposes improved conceptualizations, intervention approaches, measurement methods, and/or experimental design. If appropriate to the topical content and to the student’s knowledge base, he/she is encouraged to adhere to current reporting guidelines appropriate to the chosen review approach (i.e., as defined at http://www.prisma-statement.org/, or http://www.equator-network.org/, and elsewhere). However, this is NOT a requirement of the behavioral medicine specialty area examination. There is no specific recommendation regarding length, but students are encouraged to be succinct and to consider typical journal length limitations. The review must include one or more tables that summarize the important aspects of the reviewed studies.
      2. The grant proposal should describe an empirical study that may involve collection of new data and/or involve analysis of existing data. Students should follow guidelines for the R21 or R03 mechanism (i.e., as defined at https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-16-161.html, or https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-16-162.html), or using another format agreed to by the student’s guidance committee and the behavioral medicine track chairs. Required components of the grant proposal are as follows: 1) Aims; 2) Research Strategy; and 3) Cited Literature. Although not required, other grant components such as the Protection of Human Subjects; Facilities and Other Resources; Project Narrative; Project Summary; Inclusion of Children; Inclusion of Women and Minorities; Data Sharing Plan; Biosketches; and appendices may be included if those components provide additional information that will help with the review of the examination.
      3. The topic of the review paper or grant proposal should not be the same as a previously produced manuscript, grant or assignment, although it can be on a different aspect of the same general topic.
      4. The product represents the work of the student. Prior to the formal review, the student will not receive any feedback or input, or reviews of the drafts from any faculty members.
      5. The student is welcome to submit the grant for funding following the review period, if appropriate.
  3. Selection of Reviewers
    1. The review paper or grant proposal submitted as the comprehensive examination will be reviewed anonymously by two JDP faculty members.
      1. One reviewer should be from UC San Diego and one from SDSU
      2. Up to one reviewer may be a member of the student’s guidance committee
      3. At least one reviewer will not be a member of the guidance committee
      4. The guidance committee chair will not be a reviewer. A co-chair is also excluded if that person substantively contributed to topic selection.
    2. Students should identify a list of five potential reviewers, in consultation with their advisors and/or guidance committee’s as desired. They should then send this list, along with the specific date by which they will submit their exam for review.
    3. Behavioral Medicine Track chairs will then contact the reviewers, secure their agreement and verify the due date for the exam.
  4. The Review Process
    1. The review process will be blind, meaning that the reviewers will not know the identity of the student, and the student will not be informed which reviewers are ultimately selected.
    2. All correspondence from students or reviewers should be sent to the behavioral medicine track co-chairs and the (SDSU) JDP Program Coordinator who will coordinate the process and maintain the blind review.
    3. Students should submit their de-identified final, comprehensive exam (to the track co-chairs and JDP Program Coordinator) before the agreed upon due date, for timely distribution to reviewers.
    4. Reviewers are asked to provide a review of the review paper or grant proposal as if it were submitted for publication at a peer-reviewed journal or a peer-reviewed granting agency. Specific written feedback on strengths and weaknesses of the exam should be included.
    5. In addition, each reviewer is requested to pose two questions to the student that probe potential areas of weakness or areas that are not addressed in the document. This method allows reviewers to assess broader areas of competence in behavioral medicine.
    6. Students have one week to submit 3-5 page, double-spaced, written responses to each of up to four questions (two from each reviewer). References should be included. Please note that the student is NOT required to revise the exam in response to the complete review but must only provide a separate response to the additional questions raised by each reviewer.
    7. Reviewers will score the entire comp as passed or not passed. Additional written feedback may be provided at this time.
    8. In cases where one or both reviewer feels that a passing grade is not warranted, students may be required to revise the entire exam according to written feedback.
  5. Timing
    1. The exam does not need to be turned in at the same time by all students.
    2. The comprehensive examination can submitted at the beginning of the third year. Final deadlines are listed, but students are encouraged to finish well before these dates.
    3. Final Deadlines
      1. Comprehensive exam proposal signed by the Behavioral Medicine Track Chairs and placed in the students’ file by April 15 of the year they intend to apply for internship.
      2. The completed product should be submitted for review by June 1 of the year they intend to apply for internship.
      3. Initial review should be completed within two weeks of when the product is submitted.
      4. Students have one week to respond to the reviewer questions.
      5. The reviewers have one week to respond to the answers and grade the comprehensive exams.
      6. The review process takes approximately one month and all students should have formal reviews by July of their internship application year.
      7. Although it is suggested, it is not required to have passed the comprehensive exam prior to defending dissertation.
      8. If one or both reviewers do not pass the student, a plan for remediation must be developed by the guidance committee chair and one of the Behavioral Medicine Track Chairs. This written plan must be approved by the JDP Co-Directors.
  6. Documentation of Comprehensive Examination Completion
    1. Each reviewer must notify the Behavioral Medicine Track Chairs that the exam has been passed.
    2. The Track Chair (s) will notify the JDP Co-Directors and the program coordinator (SDSU) that the examination has been passed.
    3. A copy of the completed examination must be submitted to the JDP office for the student’s file.

Last updated 3/18/2024