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2013 Annual Meeting Recap

Margaret L. Schneider, PhD, 2012-2013 Program Committee Chair

April 2013 in San Francisco was the setting for a terrifically successful Society of Behavioral Medicine Annual Meeting. Staying on our trajectory of yearly increases in attendance, this year 1,861 individuals registered for the conference, which featured 1,138 poster presentations and 453 speakers. The conference theme—technology; the excitement and the evidence—was integrated into many aspects of the meeting, including tech-oriented vendors who joined our exhibitors in the poster hall, an app-mediated CityWalk sponsored by the Physical Activity Special Interest Group, an app version of the conference program, and free WiFi for all conference attendees. All of these new features received very positive reviews and will, we hope, be incorporated into the programming for next year as well.

It was the intention of the Program Planning Committee that some of these new elements would encourage SBMers to think outside the box and consider ways in which technology might inform their own research and/or practice. Toward this end, the opening keynote by BJ Fogg, PhD, on Thursday morning succeeded tremendously. His presentation on “Lessons from Coaching a Thousand Tiny Habits” was the most commented-on single session in the post-conference evaluations, and stimulated much lively hallway conversation. The excitement carried through to the Presidential keynote by Alan J. Christensen, PhD, in which he addressed the need to build bridges between the culture of excitement that characterizes much technological innovation and the culture of evidence that guides behavioral medicine.

The marriage of excitement and evidence was beautifully illustrated by the keynotes delivered by Amy P. Abernethy, MD, and Arthur F. Kramer, PhD. Dr. Abernethy shared her experiences using patient-reported outcomes data for clinical care and research, and Dr. Kramer described work on exercise, brain and cognition. Both presentations demonstrated the utility of technology in gathering information that can inform patient care decisions and the novel ways that technology can facilitate behavioral medicine research.

The Master lectures lived up their name, and offered SBM members an opportunity to see and meet a number of the luminaries in the field. On Thursday, David C. Mohr, PhD, talked about how to improve the design and implementation of behavioral intervention strategies for depression while Daniel Stokols, PhD, provided an overview of the art and science of transdisciplinary science. Both of these presentations built upon to the theme of the conference, which encouraged behavioral scientists to form intellectual partnerships with individuals with skills in software and hardware development to generate novel solutions to old and new health challenges.

On Friday, two Master lectures offered new insight into behaviors that traditionally have been the focus of behavioral medicine: Diabetes and Smoking. The Distinguished Scientist Master Lecture was provided by Dr. Richard S. Surwit, PhD, an authority on stress and health, who spoke about “Psychological Factors and the Pathophysiology of Type 2 Diabetes: A 30 Year Perspective”. Steven A. Schroeder, MD, discussed what to do with a patient that smokes, and specifically focused on ways of bridging the gap between the clinic and the community.

Saturday morning featured two standing-room-only Master Lectures followed by a Closing Keynote Panel that kept people in their seats until the very end. Annette L. Stanton, PhD, President of Division 38 (Health Psychology) of the APA, offered lessons learned about developing maximally effective psychosocial interventions for adults living with chronic disease. At the same time, C. Barr Taylor, MD, reviewed his work using technology for prevention in areas of body image, obesity, and eating disorders. Finally, we closed off the program with a panel featuring Sheanna Bull, PhD, Nathan Cobb, MD, James Fowler, PhD, and James Smarr, MS (Google), and moderated by Abby C. King, PhD, past SBM President. In keeping with the technology theme, audience members submitted their questions via Twitter.

In addition to the program offerings from Thursday through Saturday, there were a variety of pre-conference activities from which to choose. On Tuesday, our colleagues at the National Institutes of Health partnered with us to offer a full-day mHealth Brief Training Institute as well as a half-day workshop on translational and clinical perspectives on stress and obesity. These sessions were well-attended and provided a great lead-in to the regular conference program.

Among the many stellar symposia, there were a few that were highlighted in the program, including one on the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), a symposium on “Navigating the New Waters of Digital Health Research and Institutional Review Boards” on Friday morning, and a symposium on Friday afternoon showcasing the results of the American Cancer Society’s Study of Cancer Survivors.

This year saw the introduction of vertical posters to the poster sessions. This innovation afforded us the opportunity to provide more of our members with the opportunity to showcase their work. We also continued the mentored poster program, started in 2012, which matched students with senior investigators to receive personalized feedback on their presentations.

The SBM Annual Meeting represents the culmination of considerable time and effort contributed by the Program Committee, SBM staff, Track Chairs and reviewers and, of course all of the SBM members (and future members) who bring their research to the meeting and share it with their colleagues. The Program Committee holds weekly teleconferences with the SBM staff for an entire year leading up to the meeting, and this year were ably supported by a special Tech Workgroup that guided much of the tech content of the conference. The Program Chair for SBM 2012, Jamie Studts, PhD, provided valuable guidance and wisdom, as did the SBM Executive Director, Amy Stone.

Program Committee
Jamie L. Studts, PhD, 2012 Program Chair
Margaret L. Schneider, PhD, 2013 Program Chair
Elliot J. Coups, PhD, 2013 Program Co-Chair
Claudio R. Nigg, PhD
Barbara Resnick, PhD, CRNP, FAAN, FAANP
Camonia R. Long, PhD, CHES

SBM Staff
Amy Stone, Executive Director
Holland LaFave, Education and Meetings Manager
Alicia Sukup, Director of Administration
Ben Stumpf, Program Manager
Ryan Spannagle, Administrative Coordinator

Tech Work Group
Eric B. Hekler, PhD, Chair
Thom K. Houston, MD, MPH, FACMI, Co-Chair
Ellen Beckjord, PhD, MPH
Tim Bickmore, PhD
Rebecca Kinney, PhD
Kevin Patrick, MD
William T. Riley, PhD