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SBM Sponsors a Call for Papers to Translational Behavioral Medicine Featuring VHA Research

David E. Goodrich, EdD, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System

In support of a new partnership between SBM and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Bonnie Spring, Editor-in-Chief of Translational Behavioral Medicine: Practice, Policy Research (TBM), has committed to dedicate a special section of the December 2011 issue to feature innovative behavioral medicine research supported by VHA. A call for papers has been disseminated to both SBM members and related professional organizations to encourage the submission of manuscripts by May 2011. Special edition co-editors, Robert Kerns and Sara Knight, hope that this issue of TBM will highlight how VHA has taken a leading role in integrating behavioral medicine practices into applied patient care.

As Dr. Knight observes, "I think many behavioral medicine professionals are unaware of the vast applied research opportunities supported by the VA. It is our hope that this special edition may encourage some SBM members to cultivate clinical and research partnerships with their local VA facility to test new strategies that improve patient outcomes through behavioral medicine."

Most Americans are unaware that VHA is the nation's largest integrated health care system, and one of the world's largest health organizations, serving over 5.7 million Veterans per year. With an annual budget of $52 billion, the VHA includes 153 hospitals, 135 long term care facilities, and 784 outpatient clinics in cities and communities. The VHA has become known as an early adopter of health services innovations, such as the national electronic medical record, and as a provider of high quality care that is accessible to even the poorest of Veterans. Compared to the general American population, Veterans are generally characterized by greater socio-economic disadvantage and psychiatric and medical comorbidity.

Through their system of affiliations with academic medical schools and more than 100,000 clinical trainees per year, the VHA leads the nation in the clinical training of health care professionals. During the past decade, the VHA initiated the rapid implementation of evidence-based interventions for common chronic conditions. Many of these implementation initiatives have incorporated interdisciplinary behavioral medicine. Illustrative examples include stroke self-management, multiple risk factor interventions for diabetes, and patient and health professional engagement in disease prevention.

This special issue of Translational Behavioral Medicine will be devoted to articles that describe these VHA innovations in behavioral medicine and the challenges of implementing them in a large integrated health system. Manuscripts pertaining to the VHA are encouraged in the following content areas: evidence-based practice and inter-professional teams, health care professional behavior change, system-wide implementation of behavioral medicine, intensive behavioral medicine interventions in VA, quality measures for behavioral medicine, and implementation projects where health behavior is a significant part of the intervention.

Paper topics of special interest include evidence synthesis of behavioral interventions, barriers and facilitators of large scale behavioral medicine implementation in VHA, and the development of inter-professional teams including behavioral medicine in the VHA. Empirical contributions, systematic reviews, case studies, commentaries, and policy briefs are welcome. For more information about submitting a manuscript, please visit http://www.springer.com/medicine/journal/13142.

David E. Goodrich, EdD, is a Health Research Science Specialist at the Ann Arbor VA Center of Clinical Management in Ann Arbor, MI, who serves on the SBM Scientific and Professional Liaison Council. His research focuses on the application of behavioral interventions for the management of chronic health conditions and is a member of the VA's Diabetes Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI).