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Presidentís Message: SBM Advances Technology, Public Health, and Prevention

Lisa M. Klesges, PhD, SBM President
Lisa M. Klesges, PhD, SBM president

Lisa M. Klesges, PhD, SBM president

Since I began my term as the 36th president of the Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) during our 2014 Annual Meeting in April, SBM has launched new initiatives, I’ve announced areas of focus for the year, and—believe it or not—planning is well under way for our 2015 Annual Meeting. We’ve been busy!

New Initiatives
The SBM Board of Directors in July approved adding a new Digital Health Council to the society’s cadre of governing councils. The Digital Health Council comes at a pivotal time in behavioral medicine, as technological advances drastically change how we perform research and reach those in need of intervention. Expanding the role of technology is part of SBM’s current strategic plan. The council will help ensure technology remains an SBM focus, and it will help carve out a role for SBM in highlighting the proper use of technology and big data in health care. Special thanks to leaders and members of the Technology Special Interest Group (SIG) for key discussions that led to a Digital Health Council proposal.

The SBM Board in July also welcomed Kevin Masters, PhD, who will be the new editor-in-chief of Annals of Behavioral Medicine, one of SBM’s two journals. Dr. Masters has a great vision for adding to the journal’s already outstanding reputation, which includes a 5-year impact factor of 5.379.

SBM remains dedicated to its traditional print publications, but also continues to grow its online and social media presence to increase engagement with all of our members. A new SBM LinkedIn group is growing steadily, our Facebook page is gaining “likes,” and our several Twitter feeds are bringing the latest behavioral medicine information, opportunities, and news to a growing number of followers. SBM this summer also introduced a new issues blog, SBMConnect.

Presidential Focus
As president, I have created two working groups: one on governance and one on revenue enhancement. The governance working group will look at SBM’s entire structure to see how the charge of each council, committee, and SIG fits into the society’s current strategic plan. The revenue enhancement working group, meanwhile, will identify creative ways to find new society revenue sources. Both groups will make sure SBM remains viable and sustainable. Look for updates on the groups’ progress later this year.

During my year as president, I also hope to keep SBM committed to improving public health. As a public health advocate and professional, this goal is near and dear to me. Obesity rates are troubling, costs of chronic illness are rising, and health disparities remain a constant concern, all while public health funding continues to falter. SBM has a role to play in advancing population health and in getting the right policies enacted to make a difference. Part of that role involves offering a 2015 Annual Meeting that focuses on expanding behavioral medicine’s role in national prevention efforts.

2015 Annual Meeting
The Annual Meeting will be held in San Antonio, TX, from April 22–25, 2015. The meeting’s theme is “Advancing the National Prevention Strategy through Behavioral Medicine Innovation.”

As a guide for the meeting, we’ve adopted the National Prevention Strategy Framework put forth by the National Prevention Council. The framework identifies four strategic directions for improving population health: (1) create and sustain healthy and safe community environments that promote health and prevent disease; (2) provide accessible and integrated clinical and community preventive services; (3) provide the necessary tools and resources to support communities of empowered people; and (4) improve health and quality of life for all through elimination of health disparities. Related priority areas, which will be addressed by meeting speakers, include tobacco-free living; drug abuse prevention; healthy eating; active living; reproductive and sexual health; and mental and emotional well-being. Additional speakers will address cutting-edge strategies for obtaining research funding.

Many thanks to an excellent program committee including Lila Finney Rutten, PhD, MPH, Program Committee chair, and Kate Wolin, ScD, Program Committee co-chair. And thanks also to Elliot Coups, PhD, Board of Directors, who led the submission of our R13 grant application requesting 2015 Annual Meeting funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Jessie Gruman
Along with many of her friends and colleagues, I would like to pay tribute to one of our members, Jessie Gruman, PhD, who died on July 14.

Dr. Gruman fought tirelessly as a health behavior advocate and, unfortunately, knew all too well the struggles of dealing with serious illnesses. Dr. Gruman battled several cancers during her lifetime and, all the while, stayed committed to describing and bettering the health care experience of patients like herself. She authored several significant books on patients and their engagement, she created useful tools and guidelines for patients, and in 1992 she founded the Center for Advancing Health (CFAH), a nonpartisan, Washington-based research institute that deepened the evidence for patient engagement. Dr. Gruman served as the organization’s president until her death.

Dr. Gruman was an SBM fellow and this year, just before her passing, her colleagues created SBM’s Jessie Gruman Award for Health Engagement to annually recognize an individual who has made a pivotal contribution to research, practices, and policies that have advanced the understanding of patient engagement. Dr. Gruman was presented with the inaugural award during our 2014 Annual Meeting. In subsequent years, other deserving individuals will be honored with the award, and Dr. Gruman’s legacy will live on.

Thanks for Reading
I appreciate your time, and I welcome your input on the 2015 Annual Meeting and other SBM activities. If you’re already an SBM member, please help us engage a new member! If you’re not a member, please consider becoming one. SBM members have access to exclusive job postings, grant-writing courses, and behavioral medicine journals, among other benefits. SBM is a close-knit community and I hope you’ll join us. I look forward to a wonderful and productive year!