Since the breakup of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s to early 1990s, there has been observed a marked increase in annual mortality and shortening of life expectancy in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) that had been part of the Soviet Bloc. At the 8th International Congress of Behavioral Medicine, held in Mainz in August, 2004, we chaired a symposium that had as its goal the delineation of the reasons for this marked deterioration in health in CEE and to begin discussions aimed at identifying strategies that behavioral medicine researchers and practicioners might use to help ameliorate the health-damaging effects of the social, economic and political upheavals present in the region since the early 1990s. Presenters at that symposium included Dr. Eugene Chazov, Director of the Russian Cardiology Research Centre in Moscow, and Dr. Maria Kopp, Director of the Institute of Behavioural Sciences at Semmelweis University in Budapest, who described the situation in their respective countries. At the First Symposium of the Central Eastern European Behavioural Medicine Network (CEEBM-NET), held in Targu-Mures, Romania, 14-16 October, 2005, we chaired a Workshop on this topic that was attended by colleagues from Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Czech Republic, and Lithuania. As at that Workshop, our purpose in this paper will be to address the following issues: 1) What is the present situation in CEE, including more detailed reports from Russia and Hungary? 2) What sorts of steps can behavioural medicine scientists and practicioners take to ameliorate the health-damaging effects of the recent social, economic and political upheavals in the region? And 3) What concrete steps were proposed by Workshop participants?
Keywords: Central and Eastern Europe, mortality, cardio-vascular disease, gender differences, behavioral medicine, stress, coping skills training