Outlook: Newsletter of the Society of Behavorial Medicine

Fall 2020

New Articles from Annals of Behavioral Medicine and Translational Behavioral Medicine

SBM's two journals, Annals of Behavioral Medicine and Translational Behavioral Medicine: Practice, Policy, Research (TBM), continuously publish online articles, many of which become available before issues are printed. Three recently published Annals and TBM articles are listed below.

SBM members who have paid their 2020 membership dues are able to access the full text of all Annals and TBM online articles via the SBM website by following the steps below.

  1. Go to the Members Only section of the SBM website.
  2. Log in with your username and password.
  3. Click on the Journals link.
  4. Click on the title of the journal which you would like to electronically access.

To check if you are a current SBM member, or if you are having trouble accessing the journals online, please contact the SBM national office at info@sbm.org or (414) 918-3156.

Annals of Behavioral Medicine

Direct and Indirect Relationships Between the Built Environment and Individual-Level Perceptions of Physical Activity: A Systematic Review

Ryan E Rhodes, PhD, Ru Zhang, PhD, Chun-Qing Zhang, PhD

Socioecological models highlight the potential direct and indirect effects of multiple levels of influence in explaining physical activity (PA). Social cognitive theories, however, position individual cognitions as the mediator of external factors such as the built environment when explaining PA.
To appraise the evidence for direct and indirect associations between the built environment and social cognition to predict PA.
Literature searches were concluded in February 2019 using five common databases. Eligible studies were in the English language that included any direct and indirect tests of individual perceptions and the built environment with PA.
The initial search yielded 18,521 hits, which was reduced to 46 independent studies of primarily medium quality after screening for eligibility criteria. Findings were grouped by type of PA then grouped by the type of individual and built environment constructs within the model, and subdivided by adult and youth samples. There was evidence that self-efficacy/perceived control accounted for the covariance between environmental accessibility/convenience and total PA, while habit accounted for the covariance in this relationship for transport PA, particularly in adult samples. There was no evidence that the built environment had a direct association with PA after controlling for individual-level factors.
The results provide initial support for the mediation tenet in social cognition models for the relationship between individual, built environment, and PA. In practice, these findings highlight the need for coordinated interventions of individual and environmental change.

Social Distancing as a Health Behavior: County-Level Movement in the United States During the COVID-19 Pandemic Is Associated with Conventional Health Behaviors

Kyle J Bourassa, PhD, David A Sbarra, PhD, Avshalom Caspi, PhD, Terrie E Moffitt, PhD

Social distancing—when people limit close contact with others outside their household—is a primary intervention available to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The importance of social distancing is unlikely to change until effective treatments or vaccines become widely available. However, relatively little is known about how best to promote social distancing. Applying knowledge from social and behavioral research on conventional health behaviors (e.g., smoking, physical activity) to support public health efforts and research on social distancing is promising, but empirical evidence supporting this approach is needed.
We examined whether one type of social distancing behavior—reduced movement outside the home—was associated with conventional health behaviors.
We examined the association between GPS-derived movement behavior in 2,858 counties in USA from March 1 to April 7, 2020 and the prevalence of county-level indicators influenced by residents’ conventional health behaviors.
Changes in movement were associated with conventional health behaviors, and the magnitude of these associations were similar to the associations among the conventional health behaviors. Counties with healthier behaviors—particularly less obesity and greater physical activity—evidenced greater reduction in movement outside the home during the initial phases of the pandemic in the USA.
Social distancing, in the form of reduced movement outside the home, is associated with conventional health behaviors. Existing scientific literature on health behavior and health behavior change can be more confidently used to promote social distancing behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clean and Contain: Initial Development of a Measure of Infection Prevention Behaviors During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Loren L Toussaint, PhD, Alyssa D Cheadle, PhD, Jesse Fox, PhD, David R Williams, PhD, MPH

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offer behavioral guidance to prevent the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19. Cleaning (e.g., cleaning surfaces, washing and sanitizing hands) and containing (e.g., covering coughs, keeping distance from others, especially sick people) behaviors are recommended.
To develop the Clean and Contain Measure, a brief measure of compliance with CDC recommendations for prevention of infectious disease, and validate the measure in individuals experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Participants were recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk and social media.
In Study 1 (N = 97), exploratory factor analysis revealed two scales: (a) five items assessing cleaning behaviors and (b) four items assessing containing behaviors. Simple structure was obtained and alpha coefficients for both scales were >.83. In Studies 2 (N = 204) and 3 (N = 527), confirmatory factor analysis verified the identical factor structure found in Study 1. All loadings were statistically significant at p < .001. Alpha coefficients for both scales were >.84 for Studies 2 and 3.
Our measure is a reliable and valid indicator of compliance with cleaning and containing health behaviors that help to prevent the spread of diseases like COVID-19. Future research should replicate construct validity in more diverse samples and continue to refine items, examine construct validity, including predictive and discriminant validity, and improve the measure for future use. With continued use and refinement, this measure could allow health officials and researchers to accurately assess compliance with important infection prevention behavior guidelines.


Translational Behavioral Medicine

Addressing inequities in COVID-19 morbidity and mortality: research and policy recommendations

Monica L Wang, Pamela Behrman, Akilah Dulin, Monica L Baskin, Joanna Buscemi, Kassandra I Alcaraz, Carly M Goldstein, Tiffany L Carson, Megan Shen, Marian Fitzgibbon

The COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest global public health crisis since the 1918 influenza outbreak. As of early June, the novel coronavirus has infected more than 6.3 million people worldwide and more than 1.9 million in the United States (US). The total number of recorded deaths due to COVID-19 are growing at an alarming rate globally (³383,000) and nationally (³109,000) Evidence is mounting regarding the heavier burden of COVID-19 infection, morbidity, and mortality on the underserved populations in the US. This commentary focuses on this global health pandemic and how mitigation of the virus relies heavily on health behavior change to slow its spread, highlighting how the pandemic specifically affects the most socially and economically disadvantaged populations in the US. The commentary also offers short, intermediate and long-term research and policy focused recommendations. Both the research and policy recommendations included in this commentary emphasize equity-driven: (1) research practices, including applying a social determinants and health equity lens on monitoring, evaluation, and clinical trials activities on COVID-19; and (2) policy actions, such as dedicating resources to prioritize high-risk communities for testing, treatment, and prevention approaches and implementing organizational, institutional, and legislative policies that address the social and economic barriers to overall well-being that these populations face during a pandemic. It is our hope that these recommendations will generate momentum in delivering timely, effective, and lifesaving changes.

A faith-based mind–body intervention to improve psychosocial well-being among rural adults

Scherezade K Mama, Nishat Bhuiyan, Melissa J Bopp, Lorna H McNeill, Eugene J Lengerich, Joshua M Smyth

Churches are well positioned to promote better mental health outcomes in underserved populations, including rural adults. Mind–body (MB) practices improve psychological well-being yet are not widely adopted among faith-based groups due to conflicting religious or practice beliefs. Thus, “Harmony & Health” (HH) was developed as a culturally adapted MB intervention to improve psychosocial health in urban churchgoers and was adapted and implemented in a rural church. The purpose of this study was to explore the feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy of HH to reduce psychosocial distress in rural churchgoers. HH capitalized on an existing church partnership to recruit overweight or obese (body mass index [BMI] ≥25.0 kg/m2) and insufficiently active adults (≥18 years old). Eligible adults participated in an 8 week MB intervention and completed self-reported measures of perceived stress, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and positive and negative affect at baseline and postintervention. Participants (mean [M] age = 49.1 ± 14.0 years) were mostly women (84.8%), non-Hispanic white (47.8%) or African American (45.7%), high socioeconomic status (65.2% completed ≥bachelor degree and 37.2% reported an annual household income ≥$80,000), and obese (M BMI = 32.6 ± 5.8 kg/m2). Participants reported lower perceived stress (t = −2.399, p = .022), fewer depressive symptoms (t = −3.547, p = .001), and lower negative affect (t = −2.440, p = .020) at postintervention. Findings suggest that HH was feasible, acceptable, and effective at reducing psychosocial distress in rural churchgoers in the short-term. HH reflects an innovative approach to intertwining spirituality and MB practices to improve physical and psychological health in rural adults, and findings lend to our understanding of community-based approaches to improve mental health outcomes in underserved populations.

Behavioral health policy for improving population health and wellbeing: opportunities for investment in evidence-based policymaking

Max Crowley, Lawrie Green, Taylor Scott, Elizabeth Long

The high cost of behavioral health problems across the population continues to highlight the need to integrate high-quality behavioral interventions across a variety of service settings. To successfully achieve such a system-wide transformation will require supporting federal policies that invest in sustainable high-quality services. To support these efforts we provide a mixed-method study of all federal mental health legislation over the last three decades. Results indicate that mental and behavioral health policies have grown. Further, specific characteristics that comprise bills that are successfully enacted into law are identified. Finally, opportunities for the field to engage with policymakers to support widespread integration of behavioral health services are offered.