Outlook: Newsletter of the Society of Behavorial Medicine
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Update on Activities of the Behavioral Informatics SIG

Thomas Houston, PhD, Chair of the Behavioral Informatics SIG

The Behavioral Informatics Special Interest Group has been having monthly conference calls to discuss SIG business and to plan for future group initiatives. Our major goals for 2012 are to: (1) engage more SBM members, (2) start a mentorship program, (3) establish a poster award at the 2012 conference, (4) collaborate with other SIGs, (5) engage in research on the intersection of health communication and technology, and (6) write a behavioral informatics "year in review" for next year's Outlook. We have made progress toward reaching our goals and are on track for a productive year. We have created the poster award for the 2012 conference and will be co-hosting a social event at the Annual Meeting with the Obesity and Eating Disorders SIG to facilitate collaboration between the two SIGs. We have also formed a subcommittee to examine our research focus for the year in health communication and technology.

Our major research focus for the year is examining the role of ontology in behavioral medicine. An ontology defines a set of concepts in an unambiguous manner, including taxonomic and other relationships among them. Our goal is to provide a behavioral health ontology that can be used by the behavioral medicine community to define and categorize psychological constructs, measures, behavioral theories, and interventions in a way that is more precise and unambiguous than has been previously possible. We anticipate this ontology can be used to help relate behavioral medicine concepts to concepts in other disciplines, including medicine, and to promote interoperability and reuse in behavioral informatics systems. We hope that our group can move forward with this process and advance understanding of the role of ontology in behavioral medicine. We will be building on our "Reusable Tools" lecture from last year, examining research on intervention mapping, and using the expertise of our members to move this research forward. We look forward to sharing our work with the SBM community.