Outlook: Newsletter of the Society of Behavorial Medicine

Fall 2019

Going Global: The International Society of Behavioral Medicine Charts Steps for the Future

Lila J. Finney Rutten, PhD, MPH; SBM Member Delegate ‚úČ and Joost Dekker, PhD; ISBM Member-At-Large

The Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) is a member of the International Society of Behavioral Medicine (ISBM), a federation of 26 national societies with a shared focus on behavioral science and behavioral medicine. ISBM promotes behavioral science and research as well as education through a variety of activities including: promotion and coordination of communication and interaction among various behavioral medicine professional organizations and health professionals; promotion of international collaborative research activities; development of guidelines and standards for the implementation of behavioral medicine; and dissemination of scientific information to multidisciplinary audiences.1

 International Society of Behavioral Medicine Taskforce

While the crucial role of behavior in determining health outcomes has been long recognized2 and some societies like SBM are flourishing, ISBM and some of its member societies have observed challenges currently facing behavioral medicine professional societies such as declining membership and decreased engagement of members. Furthermore, behavioral medicine appears to suffer from lack of clarity around definition and scope.3-11 Many member societies of ISBM also lack strong ties to relevant professional societies, such as disease-focused societies, wherein behavioral science could have significant impact.12

To better understand and inform efforts to address these challenges, ISBM convened a Taskforce in February 2019. All ISBM member societies (including SBM), ISBM’s early career network, and four behavioral medicine collaborative groups were invited to nominate a representative to serve on the Taskforce. The primary objectives of the Taskforce are as follows:

  • Objective 1. Develop a proposal to update the definition of behavioral medicine, its defining characteristics and its main tasks and goals.
  • Objective 2. Develop a proposal to guide the future organization of ISBM.

The taskforce aims to clarify the primary goals and characteristics of behavioral medicine and to explicate a plan to guide the activities and priorities of ISBM to align with and support these goals.

Participate in the International Society of Behavioral Medicine

International Congress of Behavioral Medicine. ISBM hosts the International Congress of Behavioral Medicine. This scientific meeting is an excellent opportunity to connect with colleagues around the world with shared research interests. The quality of the research presented is very high and exchange and collaboration with colleagues from around the globe can be a very rewarding experience. The 16th International Congress of Behavioral Medicine, Interdisciplinary Behavioral Medicine: Systems, Networks and Interventions, will take place in Glasgow, Scotland August 19-22, 2020. Abstract submissions are currently invited with a deadline for submission of Friday November 15, 2019. Further details on the call for abstracts, program tracks, and meeting registration are available here.

Special Interest Groups and Committees: Active engagement in ISBM may include participation in interests groups and committees. For example, ISBM hosts the Diabetes Collaboration and INSPIRE, an early career and student network. ISBM also hosts several committees to support the organizational structure, function, and priorities of the society.

Dissemination: The official journal of ISBM is the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine which provides an important venue for publishing findings in behavioral medicine internationally. ISBM also publishes and distributes a newsletter to disseminate findings from behavioral research and to highlight activities of ISBM and its individual and organizational membership. ISBM is also actively involved in development, implementation, and sponsorship of behavioral medicine seminars in partnership with health organizations across the world.

There are many opportunities to get involved in ISBM. As a member organization of ISBM, SBM and our membership can leverage these important opportunities to engage in global efforts to build the evidence base in behavioral science and to improve population health.



  1. International Society of Behavioral Medicine Charter. www.isbm.info/about-isbm/charter/, 2019.
  2. Healthier Lives through Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. 2006, Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research: Bethesda, MD.
  3. Dekker, J., A. Stauder, and F.J. Penedo, Proposal for an Update of the Definition and Scope of Behavioral Medicine. Int J Behav Med, 2017. 24(1): p. 1-4.
  4. Dekker, J., A. Stauder, and F.J. Penedo, Defining the Field of Behavioral Medicine: A Collaborative Endeavor. Int J Behav Med, 2017. 24(1): p. 21-24.
  5. International Congress of Behavioral Medicine. Meeting: Revising the definition of behavioral medicine: perspectives from ‘western’ and ‘non-western’ countries. 2018; Available from: https://issuu.com/zentidos/docs/icbm2018_program_book?e=5521120/65519331.
  6. Johnston, M. and D. Johnston, What Is Behavioural Medicine? Commentary on Definition Proposed by Dekker, Stauder and Penedo. Int J Behav Med, 2017. 24(1): p. 8-11.
  7. Kawakami, N., Reflections on the Proposed Definition and Scope of Behavioral Medicine. Int J Behav Med, 2017. 24(1): p. 18-20.
  8. Lau, J.T., Commentary: Proposal for an Update of the Definition and Scope of Behavioral Medicine. Int J Behav Med, 2017. 24(1): p. 12-15.
  9. Schwartz, G.E. and S.M. Weiss, Behavioral medicine revisited: an amended definition. J. Behav. Med, 1978. 1(3): p. 249-251.
  10. Sommer, R., Discipline and field of study: a search for clarification. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 2000. 20(1): p. 1-4.
  11. Weiss, S.M., Proposal for an Update of the Definition and Scope of Behavioral Medicine: Commentary. Int J Behav Med, 2017. 24(1): p. 5-7.
  12. Nater, U.M., Behavioral Medicine and Related Disciplines. Int J Behav Med, 2017. 24(1): p. 16-17.