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2014 Annual Meeting: Looking Back to Look Forward - Your Feedback from the 2013 Annual Meeting

Elliot J. Coups, PhD, 2014 Program Committee Chair
Lila J. Finney Rutten, MPH, PhD, 2014 Program Committee Co-Chair
On behalf of the SBM Annual Meeting Program Committee

A total of 1,861 registered individuals attended the SBM annual meeting in March in San Francisco, a new record for the Society! This edition of Outlook includes a nice recap of the meeting by Dr. Margaret Schneider, 2013 Program Committee Chair (see http://www.sbm.org/outlook/0713/articles.php?article=5). In this companion article, on behalf of the Annual Meeting Program Committee, we summarize some of the feedback that attendees provided in the 2013 annual meeting evaluation survey. We primarily highlight feedback that has direct implications for the 2014 annual meeting in Philadelphia, for which planning is well underway. The theme for the 2014 annual meeting is, "Behavior Matters: The Impact and Reach of Behavioral Medicine". Invited speakers will highlight the significant impact of behavioral medicine on health and health care across diverse settings, populations, and cultures.

We should note at the outset that 28% of attendees at the 2013 annual meeting completed an evaluation, so the results we report should be considered accordingly. During the 2013 conference, primarily due to space constraints at the conference hotel, all poster presentations used a vertical format. Although some issues were raised regarding over-crowding and limited viewing space, two-thirds (67%) of the evaluation respondents indicated that they did not have a preference for vertical or horizontal posters. Thus, we plan to continue with vertically-oriented posters for future meetings and will endeavor to identify hotels that can provide a sufficiently large room to accommodate our poster sessions. Another new element in this year’s meeting was the free Wi-Fi that was available in all of the meeting rooms throughout the conference. Not surprisingly, this received overwhelmingly positive feedback from respondents, and we are seeking to make this an integral component of future meetings.

In line with the 2013 meeting’s technology theme, a meeting mobile app was introduced for the first time. The app included the full program, all scientific abstracts, a personal itinerary planner, a detailed exhibitor listing, a map of the hotel, a guide to local sights and attractions, and more. Half of the evaluation respondents (49%) reported using the app, 74% of whom indicated that they found it to be extremely useful. We received some helpful suggestions for improving the mobile app, which we will work to integrate into next year’s annual meeting app. One of the most important practical issues to be addressed in planning the SBM conference is the scheduling of the sessions throughout each of the conference days. Based on feedback from this year’s meeting evaluation (as well as similar feedback received in prior years), we plan to adjust the schedule for the 2014 annual meeting in order to create a break over the lunch hour on the Thursday and Friday. Additionally, the evening poster sessions on those days will end slightly earlier than in previous years. We hope that these changes to the schedule will provide attendees with even more opportunities for networking and to enjoy the many sights in our host city, Philadelphia. Rest assured, the actual number of sessions will not change, so the scientific content of the meeting will be commensurate with that in prior years.

With regard to the annual meeting program content, it is important to bear in mind that 99% of the presentations at the annual meeting are submitted in response to the call for abstracts (the remainder are speakers invited by the Program Committee). Thus, the program content is determined primarily by you, the SBM membership, along with non-member meeting attendees. If you feel that specific behavioral medicine topics or issues should feature more prominently at the meeting, we encourage you to submit relevant presentations. Of course, please also reach out to your colleagues and collaborators to do the same, including individuals who are not current SBM members. The annual meeting evaluation included a question regarding the topics that individuals are hoping to see at the 2014 annual meeting. The top ten topics (from most to least endorsed) were as follows: theories and techniques of behavior change interventions; evidence-based behavioral medicine; physical activity; cancer; health decision making; obesity; methodology/statistics; technology; multiple health behavior change; and ethnic minority and multicultural health. Thematic areas that respondents thought were missing from the SBM annual meeting program included: child and family health; health promotion in community-based populations; complementary and alternative therapies; substance use; comparative effectiveness and health economics research; health policy; and sexual health. Additionally, the most popular suggestions for preconference sessions were advanced statistical methods (including handling "big data"), research methods, health behavior change theories and techniques, and grant writing. A number of individuals noted that they preferred preconference sessions that were highly interactive and included time for hands-on learning or practical activities.

We encourage you to consider the aforementioned feedback about behavioral medicine topics of particular interest to meeting attendees as you plan your abstract submissions for the 2014 annual meeting in Philadelphia. With that in mind, if you intend to submit a presentation for next year’s annual meeting, we strongly suggest you read an excellent article published in the Spring/Summer 2012 Outlook (see http://www.sbm.org/outlook/0612/articles.php?article=4) that demystifies the abstract review process. We would especially like to reiterate two key points from that article.

First, if you are reporting results of an empirical study, be sure to describe the results that you plan to present at the meeting. The mere promise of results (such as, "Study results will be available prior to the annual meeting") will not be met with a positive review. Second, submit a "paper only" (as opposed to a "paper or poster") presentation with caution! In order to create a meaningful paper session, sufficient high-quality papers must be received that can be grouped thematically. Sometimes the Program Committee is unable to place a highly-rated paper into an appropriate session and thus it will be rejected outright if the submitter selected "paper only". If you have a strong preference for giving an oral presentation at the conference, you might consider submitting for a panel or symposium session.

The abstract submission site is now open and available at http://www.sbm.org/meetings/2014/call-for-abstracts (and some early-birds have already submitted their abstracts!). The deadline for abstract submissions is Thursday, September 12th, 2013. The deadline for rapid communication posters is Tuesday, January 7th, 2014.

We look forward to receiving your annual meeting abstract submissions and seeing you in Philadelphia from April 23–26, 2014!

Elliot J. Coups, PhD, 2014 Program Committee Chair
Lila J. Finney Rutten, MPH, PhD, 2014 Program Committee Co-Chair
On behalf of the SBM Annual Meeting Program Committee

 

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