Research Topic

Biopsychosocial Complexity Research

About this Research Topic

Advancements in medical research have been accelerating at a rapid pace for the past century to help alleviate the burden of psychiatric disorders on modern societies. However, the majority of these achievements have been made utilizing a mechanistic-reductionistic approach consisting of research designs (e.g. pre/post, randomized controlled trials, experiments) and methods (e.g. standardized questionnaires, animals) that often fail to capture the full extent of human complexity in modern psychiatric research. Alternatively, emerging evidence suggests that a paradigmatic shift to the biopsychosocial model of life, employing a biosemiotic-systemic approach, may accelerate progress in these areas where a mechanistic-reductionistic approach has not been as successful.

The systemic perspective of the biopsychosocial paradigm assumes that nature is a hierarchically arranged continuum, with its larger and more complex entities (e.g. society, family, person) being superordinate to the smaller, less complex entities (e.g. tissue, cell, gene). Within this hierarchy of systems, complex biological, psychological and social interdependencies and nonlinear regulatory circuits exist that shape human experience and are ultimately responsible for an individual’s health and disease. The biosemiotic perspective of the biopsychosocial paradigm proposes that living systems, such as human beings, are essentially driven by sign relations and their signification in life processes. In this view, the personal meaning of a sign (e.g. a stressor) is dependent on both the context of the sign and the individual interpreting the sign. Such interpretation processes, in turn, are determined by a person’s current as well as past experience. From a biosemiotic perspective, therefore, an individual’s health and disease is highly dependent on subjective – and sometimes subconscious – factors influencing one’s life.

The goal of this Research Topic is to explore how to equip medical research designs and methods to more validly grasp complexity in the biopsychosocial realm. We welcome original research articles and review articles as well as epistemological (theoretical) work on biopsychosocial complexity research focusing on (but not limited to) the following areas:

•Naturalistic (time series analysis) studies on biopsychosocial complexity
•Qualitative analyses (of information-rich material) focusing on biopsychosocial complexity
•Epistemological work on the methodological requirements of biopsychosocial research
•Development of novel approaches (e.g. time series analysis, hermeneutic analysis) for investigating biopsychosocial complexity
•Scientific endeavors critically reviewing and commenting on usual biomedical designs and methods of conventional psychosomatic research (e.g. RCT design)


Keywords: Biopsychosocial, System, Complexity, Psychosomatics, Psychoneuroimmunology


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Advancements in medical research have been accelerating at a rapid pace for the past century to help alleviate the burden of psychiatric disorders on modern societies. However, the majority of these achievements have been made utilizing a mechanistic-reductionistic approach consisting of research designs (e.g. pre/post, randomized controlled trials, experiments) and methods (e.g. standardized questionnaires, animals) that often fail to capture the full extent of human complexity in modern psychiatric research. Alternatively, emerging evidence suggests that a paradigmatic shift to the biopsychosocial model of life, employing a biosemiotic-systemic approach, may accelerate progress in these areas where a mechanistic-reductionistic approach has not been as successful.

The systemic perspective of the biopsychosocial paradigm assumes that nature is a hierarchically arranged continuum, with its larger and more complex entities (e.g. society, family, person) being superordinate to the smaller, less complex entities (e.g. tissue, cell, gene). Within this hierarchy of systems, complex biological, psychological and social interdependencies and nonlinear regulatory circuits exist that shape human experience and are ultimately responsible for an individual’s health and disease. The biosemiotic perspective of the biopsychosocial paradigm proposes that living systems, such as human beings, are essentially driven by sign relations and their signification in life processes. In this view, the personal meaning of a sign (e.g. a stressor) is dependent on both the context of the sign and the individual interpreting the sign. Such interpretation processes, in turn, are determined by a person’s current as well as past experience. From a biosemiotic perspective, therefore, an individual’s health and disease is highly dependent on subjective – and sometimes subconscious – factors influencing one’s life.

The goal of this Research Topic is to explore how to equip medical research designs and methods to more validly grasp complexity in the biopsychosocial realm. We welcome original research articles and review articles as well as epistemological (theoretical) work on biopsychosocial complexity research focusing on (but not limited to) the following areas:

•Naturalistic (time series analysis) studies on biopsychosocial complexity
•Qualitative analyses (of information-rich material) focusing on biopsychosocial complexity
•Epistemological work on the methodological requirements of biopsychosocial research
•Development of novel approaches (e.g. time series analysis, hermeneutic analysis) for investigating biopsychosocial complexity
•Scientific endeavors critically reviewing and commenting on usual biomedical designs and methods of conventional psychosomatic research (e.g. RCT design)


Keywords: Biopsychosocial, System, Complexity, Psychosomatics, Psychoneuroimmunology


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

11 September 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

11 September 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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