Francis J. Keefe, PhD
Behavioral Medicine: Building for Our Future Through Career Development
One of the key initiatives that I have for my year as SBM President is to see what we as a society can do to help our members in their career development. Traditionally, the target of career development efforts has been students and SBM members who are early in their careers. However, it is becoming increasingly apparent that many SBM members do not follow conventional career paths, e.g. starting as a researcher or a clinician and following that trajectory throughout one's career. Career paths are becoming increasingly varied with individuals switching and combining different career goals at different points along their career trajectory. This means that as a professional society, we need to consider ways of addressing career development issues that arise across the entire career trajectory of our members. Given the diverse expertise and opportunities for the field of behavioral medicine, I think that in the future these novel career trajectories are likely to become the norm, rather than the exception.
As behavioral medicine builds for the future, it faces important challenges that will require many of us to seek out and master new career skills. For instance, novel technologies are emerging that make it much easier to collect, store, and communicate a wide range of health-related information. For example, computer hardware such as tablet PC's continue to get lighter and more powerful. The interfaces are becoming more fluid so that users can interact with them in a more natural and intuitive fashion. For example, in an educational or therapy session crude diagrams and related cursive text can be hand drawn on a tablet PC and converted in real time to more formal presentation (diagrams now have straight lines, text now in block letters) and modified easily either by scribbling over things to erase them or using drag and drop methods (see for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-Hcz1DKfdo). The end result of this and other developments in hardware technologies is that they are becoming easier to integrate into clinical and research settings. Improvements in software, such as data visualization technology, make sophisticated visual approaches accessible to many more people (see for example: http://www.tableausoftware.com/). This development is important in that it can enable behavioral medicine specialists, patients, and the public to easily understand and interpret large amounts of health-related data (e.g. daily diary data on symptoms and mood collected over weeks with a PDA). It is important that SBM members be aware of cutting edge technologies and understand how to incorporate them into their own career development.
Over the past 10 years, we have also witnessed rapid advances in knowledge in the basic biobehavioral sciences as well as health policy and clinical arenas. The interdisciplinary nature of behavioral medicine requires that we keep abreast of these advances since they are likely to influence the work that we do. Finally, there is heightened recognition of the injustice of health disparities and growing interest among those working in the field of behavioral medicine in efforts to reduce these disparities. Addressing this pressing issue will require that many learn and master new skills (e.g., skills in public education and advocacy.)
In addition to helping our members keep abreast of new knowledge and master new skills, we need to think more about how we can help prepare and support our members through key career transition points (e.g., moving from a graduate program into clinical practice, obtaining one's first R01 grant or getting a grant renewed for the first time). SBM currently has a pool of members at all stages of their careers who could serve as a rich resource for each other with regards to such career development issues. We also have the venue of our Annual Meeting where we have already begun to address these issues through special symposia and presentations. Our new translational journal (Translational Behavioral Medicine: Practice, Policy, Research) can also provide novel opportunities for publishing articles addressing career development issues. Also, we could explore in more depth liaisons with other professional and scientific organizations that might further our goals in this area. Finally, as a society we could increase our understanding and input into national policies with regard to what needs to be done on a national level to ensure that there are appropriate training opportunities to prepare individuals for these new career trajectories. In sum, there are a lot of possible strategies SBM could pursue and, as a society, we likely want to consider and weigh the full range of options.
To facilitate this process, I have established a special Working Group on Career Trajectories in Behavioral Medicine. I am delighted that Lisa Klesges, Bev Thorn, Laura Porter, Karen Oliver, Tamara Somers, and Ken Wallston have agreed to serve on the Working Group. I will also actively participate in the Working Group. The Working Group will focus on two tasks: 1) Identifying key career trajectories that are likely to be part of behavioral medicine's future and identifying the key transition points, and 2) Pinpointing specific strategies that SBM could use to help prepare and support our members to gain the knowledge and skills needed to pursue their career goals. The tasks outlined above represent a suggested starting point and the group is likely to want to modify and change these as they talk. The Working Group will hold a series of meetings over the next year. They will generate a report that I am confident can serve to guide SBM's career development efforts in the coming years.
As you have followed your own career path you have likely learned important lessons about career development that could be of benefit to other SBM members. You also may have suggestions on how SBM could enhance its career development activities. The Working Group could benefit from your wisdom and experience. As the group addresses these issues, it is important that we hear from you. I hope you will email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with a list of suggestions, recommendations, and lessons learned on career development. These emails will be forwarded to the Working Group for their consideration.
In closing, I would like to thank each of you for the opportunity to serve you as President. It is an honor and a pleasure. As you are probably aware, the focus on new career trajectories outlined above fits well the theme for our upcoming annual meeting: "Behavioral Medicine: Building for the Future". I look forward to seeing you in Seattle.
Congratulations to the following 2009 Society of Behavioral Medicine Achievement Awards recipients!
Distinguished Student Awards
The Society of Behavioral Medicine recognizes the following individuals for their hard work and dedication to the Society.
SBM congratulates the following recipients of these special awards given by the Special Interest Groups.
Child and Family Health SIG
Complementary and Alternative Medicine SIG
Ethnic, Minority, and Multicultural Health SIG
Multiple Health Behavior Change SIG
Physical Activity SIG
Spirituality and Health SIG
Women's Health SIG
* Not Pictured
2009 Annual Meeting
Sherry L. Pagoto, PhD
The Palais des Congres de Montreal in Montreal, Quebec was the setting for the 30th Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions of the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) this past April. As SBM's first international meeting, it was a huge success with 1,249 attendees and more than 1,200 presentations.
The 2008 SBM President, Dr. Bonnie Spring, set the tone for the meeting with the theme, Behavioral Medicine: From Evidence to Practice and Policy, and a host of speakers followed suit, including Gordon Guyatt, MD, Caryn Lerman, PhD, C. Tracy Orleans, PhD, Wayne Katon, MD, and Delia Smith West, PhD. Attendees also had unique opportunities to learn ways to "think outside the box" about translational research from experts in networking science, medicine, technology, media, marketing, government, and industry. This year, SBM provided rich opportunities for attendees to learn how to expand the capacity to translate, implement, and disseminate behavioral medicine and its impact more broadly.
Clinicians and researchers also had ample opportunities to acquire new skills via pre-conference seminars and training courses. If you have never participated in pre-conference activities at SBM, they provide an extraordinary opportunity for in-depth learning on topics in an interactive and stimulating context. In 2009, the Cancer, Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and Integrated Primary Care SIGs offered all day training courses. In addition to SIG-sponsored activities, an extensive range of half-day training seminars covered both analytic and clinical skills including calculating effect sizes, mixed linear modeling, and secondary data analyses of large public datasets, as well as problem solving therapy, cultural translation of clinical practices, obesity prevention interventions, and many others. Training opportunities are set to expand even further in future meetings; members and SIGs interested in contributing to the list of seminars and workshops should contact the Program Committee with their ideas!
One of our priorities in planning the 2009 Annual Meeting was to increase the richness of the scientific and social interactions in poster sessions, given the wonderful opportunity they provide for networking, mentorship, and mingling. This task was made easier by the high quality of poster submissions. We also arranged for poster sessions to directly follow nearby Keynote lectures and we enhanced the ambiance by providing food, music, and libations. Poster sessions were extremely well-attended and we look forward to enhancing poster sessions further by expanding the number of exhibitors, strongly encouraging attendance by senior members, minimizing competing events, and yes, we'll keep the food coming!
Finally, the Annual Meeting cannot happen without the tremendous efforts of SBM membership. A special thanks goes out to all SBM members who contributed to the meeting as track chairs, reviewers, presenters, and attendees. If anyone is interested in becoming more involved in the Annual Meeting, you can volunteer to be an abstract reviewer by sending your name and a brief description of your expertise to the Program Committee.
For those of you who did not attend the 2009 meeting, here are some fun facts about the meeting:
As 2009 Program Chair, it has been a sincere pleasure and honor to be involved in the planning of the SBM Annual Meeting. I am pleased to announce that the 2010 Annual Meeting Program Chair is Dr. Michael Diefenbach, Mount Sinai, School of Medicine, New York, and Program Co-Chair is Dr. Gary Bennett, Duke University. We hope that you enjoyed the 2009 Annual Meeting and that you plan to attend the 2010 Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington. We welcome and encourage feedback and ideas about past and future meetings, so please send comments directly to the Program Committee. Very exciting plans are already in the works for 2010! See you in Seattle!
In Memoriam: Thomas G. Pickering
William Gerin, PhD, SBM Fellow
Our beloved colleague and friend, Tom Pickering, passed away May 14. Tom had been ill for the past several months, and the end was not unexpected. It was, as such endings go, peaceful and without pain. He leaves behind his wife Janet, and sons Robert and William.
I had the privilege of working closely with Tom for the greater part of the past three decades. He was, in fact, my post-doctoral mentor, and brought me into this field. His influence on me, and, more importantly, on the way we as a field think about the role of psychosocial factors in the development of hypertension, was, and continues to be, immense. His quiet insistence on assessment of blood pressure in the natural environment, getting it out of the clinic and the laboratory, have changed the standard for its assessment. For example, his seminal work in the study of white coat hypertension has had an impact on the way many primary care physicians and hypertension specialists regard clinic blood pressure measures. Changing the way medicine is practiced, to incorporate lessons from the field of behavioral medicine, is one of the major goals of the field, but is rarely realized. This was only one of the many areas in which Tom's influence changed the direction of the research and of the clinical translation.
In addition to his impact on the research, Tom's influence will be felt due to the many young - and often, not so young - researchers and physicians he has mentored over the years. Mostly, this was not a formal process; Tom said "no" to nobody who came seeking guidance. Whether they were officially connected with our lab carried no weight whatsoever. Tom was available to all comers.
Tom garnered a respect from his colleagues that is rare. He had a reputation for bravery and unorthodoxy in his ideas, and for meticulous and creative science. In addition, his demeanor, one of quiet courtesy and of forgiveness of the lack of such qualities in others, drew people to him, created the foundation for collaborations that spanned decades, and a range of content areas that would have represented productive careers for a platoon of investigators. There was not a researcher I ever met who was not, or would not have been, excited to work with him. Yet, underlying all this was a great humility and modesty. Losing Tom is a great personal loss for those of us who knew him, and for the field that he loved and inspired.
SBM Outlook Spotlight - Membership Council - Summer 2009
Brent Van Dorsten, PhD, Membership Council Chair
The Society of Behavioral Medicine's Membership Council is one of the five permanent councils and is charged with recruitment and retention of members. In accordance with the SBM mission statement, this is a multi-dimensional task focused on recruiting interdisciplinary members involved in a variety of clinical, research, administrative and educational pursuits. Additionally, this council is responsible for the evaluation of applications for membership, establishment of appropriate criteria for membership, for reviewing allegations of unethical conduct of members, and for recommending members for the status of Fellow subject to board approval. The current Membership Council is composed of the following members: Brent Van Dorsten, PhD (Chairperson), Lora E. Burke, PhD, MPH, FAHA, FAAN (Past Chair), Viktor E. Bovbjerg, PhD, MPH (Past Chair), Dean G. Cruess, PhD, Sherri Sheinfeld Gorin, PhD (Cancer SIG), Barbara Resnick, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, FAANP (SIG CHAIR), Robert Motl, PhD (Physical Activity SIG), Marcella H. Boynton, MA (Multiple Health Behavior Change SIG), Jeffrey L. Goodie, PhD, ABPP (Integrated Primary Care SIG), Sasha Fleary, MS (Student SIG) and Christina Psaros, MS (Women's Health SIG). The Membership Council attempts to represent multiple professional specialties and a subset of prominent Special Interest Groups (SIGs) among its members.
At the SBM annual meeting, the Membership Council sponsors a New Member Breakfast to provide orientation to new members regarding the myriad of opportunities available within the organization and to familiarize them with the array of SIG activities. The Membership Council also staffs a membership information booth to facilitate membership application for non-member meeting attendees. The Membership Council looks forward to collaborating with the SBM Program Committee and Executive Committee to develop creative strategies to increase local professional attendance at SBM's 31st Annual Meeting & Scientific Sessions in Seattle and retain the attendees as members.
In the current turbulent financial times being faced by academic, medical and practitioner professionals, the Membership Council requests the assistance of all SBM members to encourage our colleagues to remain members and to attract new members to serve our collective mission.
Call to Action:
It is all about SIGs
Barbara Resnick, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, FAANP, SIG Council Chair
Society of Behavioral Medicine is the best kept secret among health care professions and our SIGS are the best kept secret within SBM. There are currently 17 SIGs:
What is the purpose and focus of the SIGs?
What is in it for YOU?
Ten dollars from your membership dues are allocated as follows:
So, take a stand in an area you have interest in and support that SIG.
Once you identify yourself with a SIG, you will get added to the SIG's Listserv and have the opportunity to share news, ask questions, explore controversial areas, or pull together others with expertise in similar areas.
My Vision and Hopes for SIGS in 2009-2010
Increasing Membership and Activity of the SIGS
Increasing Recognition of the Expertise of the SIGS
The SIG Solution
Spirituality and Health SIG Update
Kevin S. Masters, PhD, Spirituality and Health SIG Chair
A few years ago I decided that I needed to be more specific in my area of research, so I determined that I would focus on projects involving religiousness/spirituality (R/S). It didn't take long before I became known locally as the guy who does R/S research; people began contacting me to help out with R/S work in their particular area. I soon discovered that I hadn't really limited my research at all. It turns out that R/S issues are pertinent to nearly every topic in behavioral medicine. Upon a moment's reflection, it became clear to me that this should have been obvious all along, because the constructs encompassed by R/S research are inherent in the people being studied, not the disease or illness process, and often take a place of central importance in their lives.
So, what's the point for you? One exciting aspect of our SIG is that we have members carrying out work in areas spanning the behavioral medicine spectrum. Just for fun I gave myself 30 seconds to jot down a list of topics of which I am aware there is significant work going on that integrates, even focuses on, R/S factors. I came up with the following: cardiovascular disease, cancer, prevention, coping with illness, HIV/AIDS, prayer and health, and immigrant health. Remember, I only had 30 seconds! If you haven't considered R/S in your area of work, I encourage you to do so. We have an active listserv and if you are searching for collaborators, this is an excellent place to post a message. Or you could attend one of our SIG functions at SBM's 31st Annual Meeting & Scientific Session in Seattle, WA.
Just what are these conference activities? The SIG annually hosts a breakfast roundtable. This is a terrific way to meet folks and find out what is happening in the world of spirituality and health. All present make introductions, briefly discuss their lines of work, and provide contact information for follow up. We recently started the tradition of holding a mid-day meeting where we invite one of our members to present his/her work but we are also sure to leave time for socializing. Members of our SIG regularly make presentations at SBM, and last year we held a symposium featuring the winner and those receiving honorable mention for our Early Investigator Award for Spirituality and Health Research. For the record, Maureen R. Benjamins, PhD from Sinai Urban Health Institute was our winner and honorable mention went to Cheryl L. Holt, PhD from University of Maryland and Amy B. Wachholtz, PhD, MDiv from University of Massachusetts Medical Center. The SIG also e-publishes a newsletter three times per year (contact Barbara A. Bremer, PhD at email@example.com if you would like to receive our newsletter or contribute to it). Our SIG ranks right in the middle in terms of size but we are way over the top in terms of fun and activity. We would love to have you join us. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or our chair-elect Crystal Park at email@example.com if you would like more information or simply want to make a contact. And remember the newsletter!
See you in Seattle!
A New Home for Diabetes Behavioral Medicine Research at SBM
Nicole Bereolos, PhD, MPH
Jeffrey S. Gonzalez, PhD, Diabetes SIG Chair
The Diabetes SIG was initiated at last year's SBM meeting to attract members from multiple disciplines who are committed to the advancement of behavioral and psychological research in diabetes. Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in most parts of the world and it is a public health priority to decrease its prevalence. Behavioral interventions aimed at reducing risk factors for diabetes such as obesity and sedentary lifestyle are urgently needed. Improving quality of life and disease outcomes for patients living with diabetes is also increasingly important and addressing behavioral factors is necessary to achieve these outcomes, including improving diabetes self-care and treatment adherence, reducing diabetes-related distress, and addressing common psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. Behavioral medicine is uniquely situated to address these problems through interdisciplinary collaboration involving physicians, psychologists and other mental-health professionals, dietitians, public health specialists, nurses, health educators, and others. The Diabetes SIG seeks to foster collaboration across these disciplines and to support creative approaches to the prevention of type 2 diabetes and to improving outcomes for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. As diabetes disproportionately affects children and adults from ethnic minority backgrounds and disadvantaged social classes, we are particularly interested in attracting investigators and clinicians with expertise in working with these populations.
The importance of behavioral medicine in the management of type 2 diabetes was on prominent display at SBM's 2009 Meeting where Dr. Wayne Katon presented a keynote address on depression and diabetes. Research has consistently shown that patients with diabetes are more likely to experience depression than the general population. Furthermore, the presence of depression is associated with poorer quality of life and increases in hyperglycemia (1), risk of complications (2), functional impairment (3), and risk of mortality (4). Depression is also consistently associated with poorer diabetes self-care (5), even at subclinical levels (6). Thus, there has been much interest in whether treatments for depression can also impact diabetes health behavior and treatment outcomes. However, most existing depression treatment trials have had modest effects on depression outcomes and have generally failed to positively impact diabetes self-care or glucose control (7). As investigators continue to search for more effective interventions, important questions remain. For example, it remains unclear whether the relationship between depression and worse diabetes outcomes is causal and, if so, which behavioral and/or biological mechanisms may explain the effect of depression on worse outcomes. Questions also remain as to why depression is more common in patients with diabetes. While it seems intuitive to expect that the experience of chronic illness would have a negative impact on mood states, recent epidemiological research has suggested that depression may precede and be an independent risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes (8). This represents just one of many exciting opportunities for behavioral medicine research to make contributions to both the prevention of type 2 diabetes and the improvement of outcomes for all patients with diabetes. We hope that the Diabetes SIG will increase the visibility of behavioral medicine research that is relevant to diabetes and draw new investigators to tackling this important problem.
Nicole Bereolos, PhD, MPH
Jeffrey S. Gonzalez, PhD
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Karen M. Emmons, PhD
Bonnie Spring, PhD, ABPP
Paul A. Estabrooks, PhD
Felicia Hill-Briggs, PhD, ABPP
Lisa M. Klesges, PhD
James F. Sallis, Jr., PhD
Brent Van Dorsten, PhD
Kenneth E. Freedland, PhD
Sara Knight, PhD
Barbara Resnick, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, FAANP
Suzanne M. Miller, PhD
David C. Mohr, PhD
Paul A. Estabrooks, PhD
Prabhu Ponkshe, MA, LLB
Bonnie Spring, PhD, ABPP
Michael A. Diefenbach, PhD
Gary G. Bennett, PhD
Kathleen J. Goggin, PhD
Cheryl L. Albright, PhD, MPH
Please send Outlook correspondence to:
Cheryl L. Albright, PhD, MPH
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Editor: Cheryl L. Albright, PhD, MPH
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