Past Presidents of Division 38

President’s Column

2017 Annual Meeting Theme: Broadening the Impact and Visibility of Behavioral Sciences in Healthcare and Health Policy

Dawn K. Wilson, PhD
Dawn K. Wilson, PhD

It is with great pleasure that I begin my term as the 39th President of the Society for Health Psychology (SfHP). I came back from the annual meeting in Denver energized and excited about the innovative advances that the field of health psychology has continued to strive to take the lead in over the past 38 years.  As we celebrated our 38th anniversary with a Past-President’s Panel discussion, it occurred to me how hard the past leaders have worked to set a solid foundation of scientific principles, theoretical foundations, and fundamental methodological approaches that have stood the test of time.  One of my favorite quotes during our anniversary celebration comes from our founding President:

“In the fall of 1976 I was approached by Steve Weiss and two other members of the NIH Behavioral Medicine Study Section, which I chaired, and asked to petition the APA Council of Representatives to establish the Division of Health Psychology. We were successful and in August of 1978 gained APA approval. I was elected the charter president and gave my president’s lecture a year later. I had a full year to think about what Health Psychology was and might become. And based on numerous currents then in the air, and while looking out my window at Mount St. Helen, I decided we should define the field as one encompassing all areas of psychology, including scientists, practitioners and academics. My view of our field was a reflection of my own experiences as a medical-school teacher, practitioner, and researcher. Fortunately, with the very hard work of its Division members and officers, our collective efforts have brought us where we are today and has withstood it appears the passage of time.”

-Joseph D. Matarazzo, PhD
Emeritus Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience
Oregon Health Sciences University

It was also wonderful to see how most of our leaders have continued to build and broaden their collaborations with other fields such as public health, social sciences, medicine, and other health-related disciplines. What’s even more exciting is to see all the young members – both students and early career professionals – who have taken an active role in continuing to advance our field in important areas of science and practice.

As we launch our new website, you will also see the exciting Integrated Primary Care Training Curriculum Modules that Bill Gunn and his committee of experts in Integrated Primary Care have developed to help train doctoral and post-doctoral students in the field of Health Psychology and integrated care.

As I begin my presidency I look forward to building on the theme of broadening the visibility and impact of behavioral sciences and evidenced-based behavioral interventions on national healthcare and health policy. We have developed a Task Force to develop a strategic plan over the next five years that will develop both short-term goals for this year, as well as long-term goals consistent with our Long Range Plan goal to increase outreach.  The Long Range Plan goal for our Society is to:  “Lead, model, and advocate for the application of health psychology in science, practice, and policy for the public good.”  Along these lines, look for updates on the plans for developing our goals and action items this year.  Our Task Force members include Alan Christensen, PhD, Chair of the Clinical Health Services Council, Joanna Buscemi, PhD, 2017 Program Chair, Betsy Seng, PhD, Chair of Early Career Professionals Council, Stephanie Fitzpatrick, PhD, Chair of the Health Research Council, and Jennifer Carroll, MD, Director of the American Academy of Family Physicians National Research Network.  In addition, we have an excellent group of Senior Advisors who have agreed to work with us, including Robert Kaplan, PhD, Bill Gunn, PhD, Daniel Bruns, PsyD, Margaret Chesney, PhD, and Susan McDaniel, PhD.

Given the incredible talent within our Society, I will be featuring relevant and timely work in our field in my regular Presidential column. As our field has begun to impact important health policy issues, an important book was recently released, and is available for free to the public, that provides a comprehensive perspective on how we can use our theoretical, scientific and methodological approaches to advance the impact on population health.  Here is the link to access your free copy of this important and timely book Population Health: Behavioral and Social Science Insights:

Look for updates on exciting advances as I continue to add research contributions of the SfHP members and provide updates on expanding our health policy and outreach efforts in the President’s Column on our website.   Our Program Chair, Joanna Bucsemi, is already working hard on planning for an outstanding 39th Program for the Society for Health Psychology, on August 3-6, 2017 in Washington, DC. Given our theme of broadening the visibility and impact of behavioral sciences on healthcare and health policy, we have already lined up fantastic speakers in areas such the translation of evidence-based interventions.  Look for ongoing updates each month here, and on the SfHP website.

I welcome your thoughts and input in the coming months, and I highly recommend joining our Society if you are not already a member. You will receive the monthly journal Health Psychology as part of your membership benefits, which is a premier journal in the field (see also the SfHP website for many more membership benefits). If you want to be more involved in our Society, please contact us and we will assure that opportunities are provided for you.

All the Best,

Dawn K. Wilson, PhD
Twitter @profdawnwilson