Outlook: Newsletter of the Society of Behavorial Medicine

2017 Annual Meeting Recap: La Buena Vista: Expanding Horizons in Behavioral Medicine  

David X. Marquez, PhD, Program Committee chair; Rachel Shelton, ScD, Program Committee co-chair; and James F. Sallis, PhD, SBM president

The Society of Behavioral Medicine's (SBM) 2017 Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions kicked off with a thought-provoking opening keynote delivered by Robert K. Ross, MD, president and chief executive officer of The California endowment. Dr. Ross spoke about the 10 year Building Healthy Communities initiative to expand access to affordable, quality health care for underserved individuals and communities and to promote fundamental improvements in the health status of all Californians.

The theme of expanding our horizons carried into the keynote delivered by our very own Jim Sallis, who educated us on what we can do to take action in policy, and reiterated the importance of science in today’s society. Anna Diez Roux, dean of Drexel University’s School of Public Health, works at the intersection of health care and urban planning, and continued the theme of working towards health equity.

Harold Goldstein, DrPH, founder and executive director of Public Health Advocates, runs the California-based nonprofit that improves health by advocating for evidence-based community and school health policies. He spoke about their local efforts in California by using diabetes prevention as an example to describe the value of using a public health framework to address the most pressing physical and behavioral health challenges we face today.

Col. Tracy A. Neal-Walden, PhD, chief of psychological health for the U.S. Air Force Surgeon General’s Directorate of Healthcare and Research Operations, delivered the closing keynote and focused on the importance of studying and maintaining behavioral health within military populations.

Francis J, Keefe, PhD, was the recipient of SBM’s 2016 Distinguished Scientist Award and is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University. He gave a stimulating Master Lecture on novel strategies for understanding pain coping and enhancing pain coping skills.   Kate Lorig, DrPH, was the recipient of SBM’s 2016 Jessie Gruman Award for Health Engagement and is the director of Stanford University's Patient Education Research Center. Her work on preventing chronic disease through community-based programs has been tremendously disseminated.

In his Master Lecture, Frank J. Penedo, PhD, an expert in cancer care and survivorship and the director of the Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center's Cancer Survivorship Institute and Northwestern University's Biopsychosocial Mechanisms and Health Outcomes Program, discussed examples of patient-centered and technology-based precision care approaches in oncology settings. Finally, Marjorie Kagawa-Singer, PhD, emeritus professor in the departments of Community Health Sciences and Asian American Studies at the University of California-Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health, gave a Master Lecture in which she provided a scientifically grounded consensus definition of culture for health research.

Many of these topics extended into the rigorous science presented throughout the meeting in paper and poster sessions, symposia, panel discussions, and seminars. New at this year's meeting was a session focused on small business (SBIR)-researcher partnerships, which helped expand our usual horizons. Also, we successfully launched an “active conference,” that included morning yoga in the park directly outside the conference hotel, standing during sessions, taking the stairs, and participating in stretch breaks.

The upcoming 2018 Annual Meeting theme is ‘Extending our Reach’. Some featured speakers in New Orleans will help highlight the key connections that need to be built with a diverse range of sectors to maximize behavioral medicine’s reach and impact. This includes, but is not limited to policy-makers, government agencies, community organizations, journalists, healthcare practitioners, and industry partners.  The Program Committee has received excellent suggestions from the membership for content and is looking forward to the symposia, paper, panel discussions, and poster submissions to showcase SBM as a thought leader in this space.