Outlook: Newsletter of the Society of Behavorial Medicine

SBM Keeps Breaking Membership Records – Why?

Monica L. Baskin, PhD, Membership Council member (past chair) and Board of Directors Member Delegate

The Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) just keeps breaking membership records.

We had a record-high 2,392 members in 2016. Then this year we passed that number in early July—with six months left to go in the membership year! As of early August, we have 2,419 members for 2017.

Why are our ranks growing? Well—besides the fact that there has never been a more critical time for behavioral medicine interventions to prevent disease, improve quality of life, and reduce healthcare costs—we know our SBM champions are getting more people to join. The Champions Program was created by the Membership Council in 2016, and it tasks specially selected SBM members with spreading the word about SBM at their institutions. In particular, one champion’s institution saw SBM membership increase by 17 people from 2016 to 2017.

Strong Annual Meeting attendance is also driving the increase in membership. Many members join and renew to receive a discount on Annual Meeting registration, and we have seen record-high meeting attendance the last two years. Much praise goes to our recent Annual Meeting program chairs and Program Committee members, who make sure meeting sessions—and keynotes in particular—are engaging and feature the latest science.

The Annual Meeting is a particular deciding factor for new members who choose to join SBM. Of the 647 new members who have joined SBM so far this year, nearly half indicated they became a member to receive the meeting discount, and 87% actually attended the meeting.

Why else did those new members join?

Why Did You Join SBM? (choose one)

Percent of 2017 New Members*

Annual Meeting registration discount

49%

Research information/guidance

22%

Networking

21%

Journal subscriptions

3%

Required for job or academic program

2%

Other

3%

 *Out of those who selected an answer. 284 new members left this field blank.

 

What else do we know about these new members?

  • Career level: 67% are students, and another 4% have graduated but are still early-career.
  • Profession: They work in more than 15 professions. Most are psychologists, public health professionals, nurses, epidemiologists, and physicians, but there are also anthropologists, dietitians, geneticists, health economists, pharmacists, physical therapists, and social workers.
  • Gender and race: They are more inclusive and diverse. Of those who indicated gender, 78% are women (compared to 51% of all members). Of those who indicated race, 14% are Hispanic/Latino (compared to 8% of all members), 11% are Asian (compared to 9% of all members), and 9% are black (compared to 8% of all members).
  • Location: They come from 47 U.S. states and nine countries: Australia, Canada, Cyprus, France, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and, of course, the United States.

Our increasing membership comes at a particularly critical time in our nation as the number of people covered by health insurance is increasing, the average lifespan continues to rise, and healthcare costs are on track to outpace GDP in the coming years. Now more than ever, the expertise of our membership is needed to advance the science, promote evidence-based practice and policy, and train the next generation of behavioral health practitioners. Our interdisciplinary membership is at the forefront of promoting the study of the interplay of behavior, biology, and the environment—and the application of that knowledge to improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, communities, and entire populations.

We’re so glad these new members have joined us. They bolster SBM not just in terms of sheer numbers, but also in terms of breadth and depth. We’re also glad that so many of our members renew year after year. Our retention rate is strong: 81% in 2016, and we bet it will be even higher this year. Thanks to our new and returning members for helping the society achieve better health through behavior change!