Outlook: Newsletter of the Society of Behavorial Medicine

Marian Fitzgibbon Talks about SBM’s Health Policy Work: Past, Present, and Future

Health Policy Committee

Marian L. Fitzgibbon, PhD
Marian L. Fitzgibbon, PhD

The Health Policy Committee recently sat down with Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) Past President and Chair of the Health Policy Council Marian L. Fitzgibbon, PhD, to discuss SBM’s policy achievements.

HPC: What is the role of the Health Policy Council?

Fitzgibbon: "The Health Policy Council is responsible for ensuring coordination of the activities of the Health Policy Committee (HPC), the Civic and Public Engagement Committee and the Scientific and Professional Liaison Council (SPLC). All of these groups have been extremely active over the past several years in terms of advancing health policy. For example, we have written letters to Congress, signed onto letters and policy statements with hundreds of organizations, and developed and disseminated 10 health policy briefs (many of which have been published in Translational Behavioral Medicine [TBM] and shared with staffers on the Hill). Additionally, with the assistance of the SPLC, we have worked closely with a number of organizations to increase the impact of our briefs."

HPC: Before you were president, you served as chair of the HPC, and continue to serve as a member. What do you think has helped to increase the productivity of the committee over the past few years?

Fitzgibbon: "Over time, we have developed a model for engaging early career professionals in taking the lead on the briefs and providing expert mentorship from more senior SBM members. Also, the committee is now chaired by Dr. Joanna Buscemi, and she has made significant advances by engaging new and early career members, particularly special interest group (SIG) chairs and members. Her leadership has brought new energy to the committee. I also believe that our partnership with TBM has been beneficial. Authors of our briefs know that they will likely be able to promote their brief further through publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Additionally, we now accept proposals from our SIG chairs and members. A few years ago, all of our briefs were initiated by committee members. I believe that involving a broader range of members in the process has really increased our productivity. Finally, we have become more efficient and relevant as a committee. At first, we were novices about how to write a policy brief and wrote them more like scientific papers. Now, we understand the importance of framing a brief in a way that is concise and understandable to non-academics."

HPC: It sounds like the HPC has really evolved and continues to improve its productivity year after year. What do you believe are some important future directions for the HPC?

Fitzgibbon: "The HPC continues to evolve and grow, and we are fortunate to have the support of our current president, Dr. Jim Sallis, whose longstanding work in health policy is a cornerstone of his presidency and will be highlighted at our 2017 Annual Meeting in San Diego. We have also learned much more about working in partnership in the development and endorsements of briefs with other like-minded organizations such as the International Society of Behavioral Medicine, American College of Sports Medicine, American Lung Association, and the American College of Radiology. Moving forward, it is going to be important for the HPC to make sure that each brief has partners to increase the impact and reach of these statements."

HPC: What is your advice for members who would like to get involved in policy work?

Fitzgibbon: "I would encourage SBM members to contact the chairs of the policy-related councils/committees that are of most interest to them or their SIG chair to see how they can become involved. In terms of the HPC, we always encourage proposals for briefs and we help co-authors along the way from the inception of the idea to the dissemination. It is important for our entire membership to know that there are ways to get involved at the policy level to increase the impact of our work on a broader scale."


We would like to thank Dr. Fitzgibbon for her time. We would also like to thank the current members of the HPC: Joanna Buscemi, PhD (chair); Edwin B. Fisher, PhD; Amanda C. Green, PhD, MSN, PHCNS-BC; Marian L. Fitzgibbon, PhD; Laura L. Hayman, MSN, PhD, FAAN; Akilah J. Dulin Keita, PhD; Kenneth Tercyak, PhD; Dawn K. Wilson, PhD; Lisa M. Quintiliani, PhD, RD; and Amy L. Yaroch, PhD.

For more information about the work of the HPC or to propose ideas for future briefs, please contact Dr. Buscemi at jbuscem2@depaul.edu.