Dear ISBM Members,
The seasons have dramatically changed in Switzerland since we have all see each other at the first virtual ICBM and I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to re-connect with you once again before this year is coming to an end!
As always, this Newsletter will update you on the most important developments of our society. First and foremost, it contains the inaugural letter by our new President, Anne H. Berman, who many of you know very well from her work as Chair of the Education and Training committee and as President Elect. Please go to page 3 to learn more about her personal background and plans for the ISBM. Dear Anne, I am so happy and excited that you will be the leader of our Society for the next years; it is already clear from your letter that you were off to a tremendous start and I wish you nothing but great success and many joyful moments as our new President! As already announced in the last issue of this Newsletter, the ISBM will make sure to maintain close ties with Urs M. Nater, our former President, who has now moved on to his new role as President Past, and you will find a thank you note for him that was publicly read at the ICBM 2021 on page 11.
As pointed out by the Editor in Chief of the IJBM, Michael A. Hoyt, in his letter, the ISBM is all about collaboration. After being forced to cancel the Contribution to Health and Behavior International Collaborative Awards (HBICA) in 2020 by the global pandemic, the ISBM overcompensated by significantly increasing the number of awards given away this year: Not one, not two, not three, but eight early career researchers received a prestigious HBICA in 2021! My heartfelt congratulations to all the winners, who will now have the possibility to virtually collaborate with an international mentor of their choice. On the national level, our member societies have been active in supporting the next generation of behavioural medicine professionals; a particularly beautiful example of this has been set by the Danish Society for Psychosocial Medicine (see page 14).
Speaking of collaboration: The interviewee of this issue’s luminaries in behavioural medicine section is a true facilitator of both national and international collaboration – and someone whose dedicated goal is to translate behavioural medicine into public health and clinical practice. I am thrilled that Emeritus Professor Joseph Tak Fai Lau did not shy away from answering the five trickiest questions in behavioural medicine that are the ISBM questionnaire. Professor Lau is not only a recipient of the ISBM Distinguished Scientist Award this year, but also been given the ISBM International Collaboration Award in 2019. You will find a recent example of his outstanding networking talent on page 14.
I was also lucky enough to be able to once again quiz our member societies about one of the most pressing global challenges presented to society. This time, Bryan Cleal, Kaori Honjo, and Emily Kothe have reported back about their countries’ take on gender diversity – in particular as it applies to research in behavioural medicine. I highly recommend to read their most intriguing answers on page 18.
Lastly, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you all for your many contributions to this Newsletter this year; I have greatly enjoyed collaborating with you and getting to know you over the last months and am very much looking forward to continuing our work in 2022!
Editor of the ISBM Newsletter
Dear friends and colleagues in behavioral medicine!
When I was eight years old, I had an ambition to become President of the United States. Little could I imagine at the time what a huge challenge that particular job is. I am full of admiration for the tough job politicians have to carry out, and so happy to be in academia, where the challenges are many but not as exposed to the public eye as political roles. Our new Prime Minister in Sweden, Magdalena Andersson – the first Swedish woman prime minister – recently was voted in as Prime Minister in the morning, only to resign 7 hours later when the Environmental Party withdrew from the government. After some more talks, she was voted back into the saddle and the new government is now hard at work. As President of ISBM, I admire Magdalena Andersson’s tenacity and am inspired by her rigorous hold of finances, her vision of equality in society, and her patience in negotiating with her political peers. Also, Magdalena Andersson happens to have been born in Uppsala, where I recently was appointed Professor of Clinical Psychology, a great honor and privilege which I am truly grateful for. Uppsala University, in fact, was the first site for ICBM in 1990, following the formation of ISBM, so it is very exciting to be able to lead ISBM as its President, from this premier university, founded in 1477 and the oldest in Sweden and the Nordic countries.
I am writing this letter just before the winter solstice and the various holidays associated with this period, in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Here in the North, the days are short but lighted by decorative installations, some of them to celebrate the Nobel Prize, awarded just this past week in Stockholm. Science, in other words, has been in sharp focus recently. I would like to highlight the Economics Prize from this year, which has focused on causal inference from unintended, natural experiments, showing that raising minimum wages does not necessarily lead to fewer jobs, that new immigration can actually benefit the income of those born in a country although those who immigrated earlier can experience negative consequences, and that school resources make a positive difference in student outcomes. Awarding the Nobel Prize for this methodological work has huge relevance for behavioral medicine, from a public health perspective.
Some areas where we, as scientists and clinicians in Behavioral Medicine, can apply natural experiment methodology, include climate work, pandemic effects, and the management of the most common chronic illnesses. I very much look forward to hearing about the latest findings in these and many other areas, at our next planned conference in Vancouver, August 22-26, 2023. Our conferences are generally seen as very high quality, and an external recognition of our virtual ICBM 2021 conference came this past week when KC Jones, the congress management company, was awarded the ABPCO (Association of British Professional Conference Organisers) Recognition Award for Best Conference by an Agency Conference for their work on virtual events during the pandemic with a particular highlight on ICBM, which moved from physical to virtual in spite of so many “moving parts” and so many presenters.
Meanwhile, I would like to update you on contracts that ISBM has negotiated for signing over the months since our virtual ICBM 2021. When I assumed the presidency, there were three such contracts on the agenda:
Finally, I would like to mention our continued work on the Strategic planning topics defined at the ISBM board meeting in Chile 2018, and further defined in the ISBM Task Force work led by Joost Dekker and published in 2020 in IJBM. These topics were outlined in detail by Urs Nater, our esteemed Past President, in the ISBM newsletter in May of 2021: increasing education and training activities, becoming and remaining financially healthy, increasing translation and application of behavioral medicine research into clinical practice, helping member societies thrive and better defining what behavioral medicine is, and is not. We have continued working to operationalize these goals in concrete steps at a Strategic Planning meeting on October 27, 2021 (virtual), and we plan to continue at a virtual Board discussion in January of 2022 as well as at an on-site and hybrid meeting June 15-16 at Uppsala University, concluding with a hybrid Symposium on Behavioral Medicine on June 17th, 2022. Please save the date for the symposium in your calendars. More information will be forthcoming!
Lastly, I had a fruitful discussion with the leadership of the American Psychosomatic Society (APS) on Friday, December 3rd. APS is a longstanding member society of ISBM, with scientific and clinical interests that are closely allied with ours; for example their next conference will be in March 23-26, 2022 in Long Beach, California, on Embracing heterogeneity: towards a more inclusive, and patient-tailored clinical care. One topic we will continue to discuss is how ISBM can help all our member societies thrive – more on that after the coming Strategic Planning meetings.
To conclude, I wish you all restful holidays and take the opportunity to remind you of the benefits of sleep from a behavioral medicine perspective, defined this very morning in a lecture to students in my Applied Behavioral Medicine in Primary Care course at Karolinska Institutet: recovering, building up, repairing and servicing the body, encoding new memory and cleaning out unnecessary memories, and working through emotional experiences. More on this is available in the free KIBEHMEDx MOOC, recently moved from edX.org to a new site within Karolinska Institutet’s Canvas learning management platform.
Last but not least, I send my heartfelt thanks to the ISBM Executive Committee, Board officers and committee chairs, and General Council leaders and local members of ISBM societies around the world, for your continued inspired engagement and strivings to work for the betterment of science and clinical practice in behavioral medicine, wherever you are.
Anne H. Berman
President of the ISBM
Dear ISBM Members,
As the world begins to explore the spirit of once again (slowly and carefully) reconnecting, I am both personally and professionally aware of the power of community and social connection. One of the largest rewards of serving as Editor of IJBM is that I get to be part of an exciting, stimulating, and impactful community of behavioral medicine scholars and professionals. As we return to our office spaces and find each other again in full three-dimensions, I am reminded of how much we can have impact on those around us. In recently published research in IJBM Hirokawa and colleagues (2021) document that just feeling supported in our workplace can have biopsychosocial impact on our health and well-being.
"The IJBM is supported by an excel-
lent team of Editors both old and
I am so grateful to be supported by an expert team of Associate Editors and Editorial Board Members at IJBM. Our current Associate Editors include Drs. Adam Carrico at the University of Miami, Mary Davis of Arizona State University, Phillippa Lally at the University College London, Carissa A. Low at the University of Pittsburgh, Christine M. Rini at Northwestern University, A. Janet Tomiyama at the University of California, Los Angeles, Akizumi Tsutsumi of Kitasato University, Joshua F. Wiley at Monash University, and Chun-Qing Zhang of Sun Yat-Sen University. I also thank our outgoing Statistical Editor, Dr. Suzanne Segerstrom for her most valuable contributions to the journal that have included the design of a series of published statistical guidelines and the framing of a conversation about Open Science and we welcome our new incoming Statistical Editor Dr. Ren Liu of the University of California, Merced. These are the people that make the IJBM wheels turn, and my sense of support is firmly in place because of them!
"I invite everyone to please join the
IJBM conversation on Twitter."
As you reconnect during this time, I hope you will also connect with IJBM and our scientific community. We regularly tweet about the papers published in IJBM and the science of behavioral medicine. Join us on Twitter at @IJBMed.
Wishing you the social support and connection as we close 2021 and all the joys of re-connection and social engagement as we enter a new year!
Michael A. Hoyt
Editor in Chief
International Journal of Behavioral Medicine
The following is a message from the ISBM Board to Past President Urs Nater, communicated at the Closing Ceremony for ICBM 2021.
Thank you for your leadership, Urs Nater!
Our outgoing ISBM president has from the start of his presidency been a tireless, committed and mission-focused leader. In his interactions within ISBM, he has been consistently gracious, and supportive, frequently offering thanks to those who contribute their time and efforts to ISBM.
Over the past year and a half, he has successfully led us through the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic with his leadership of and vision for ISBM, never losing sight of what brings us together as an organization. Under Urs’ leadership, with his consistent support of all committees, ISBM is emerging even stronger, both fiscally and otherwise, with a more vital mission to promote behavioral medicine science, education, and training across the world.
Throughout this time, the members of the Board have had the pleasure of seeing Urs’ beautiful youngest child grow from baby to toddler on zoom; these videos have also reminded us of the human values that are most important.
We are confident that our society will be in good hands under the leadership of Anne H. Berman as she transitions into the Presidency. Urs, it’s been our honor and pleasure to work with you.
The ISBM Board
INSPIRE, the early career network of the ISBM, the Health and Behavior International Collaborative (HBIC) Award committee, and the sponsoring organisations are pleased to announce the 2021 HBIC Award winners.
Arwa Ben Salah will collaborate with Mustafa al’Absi at the University of Minnesota Medical School (USA) to investigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on stress, mental health, and substance use behaviors with specific attention to regional challenges, and will also focus on identifying factors that may buffer the impact of CIVID-19 related stress.
Connor Gleadhill will collaborate with Hopin Lee at the University of Oxford (United Kingdom) to enable capacity building for clinicians performing a trial on a lifestyle behavioural approach in a regional primary care setting.
Delfin Lovelina will collaborate with Mark Parascandola at the National Cancer Institute (USA) to assess the pattern and prevalence of smokeless tobacco consumption, its associated factors for its consumption, oral cancer awareness and to derive effective cessation strategy among the users.
Rossmary Marquez-Lameda will collaborate with Ricarda Nater-Mewes at the University of Vienna to conduct a qualitative study to understand Venezuelan displaced women’s access to family planning services in Peru, including contraception.
Brett Messman will collaborate with Joshua Wiley at the Monash University (Australia) on a series of studies exploring the psychometric properties of sleep variability, sociodemographic differences in sleep variability, and the dynamics between sleep variability and mental health out-comes (e.g., insomnia, stress, anxiety, and depression).
Carley O'Neill will collaborate with Billy Sperlich at the University of Würzburg (Germany) to undertake a systematic review and meta-analysis examining sex and gender differences among cardiovascular disease patients on the impact of wearable devices on physical activity levels, usability of such devices, and adherence to cardiac rehabilitation programs.
Michelle Pebole will collaborate with Simon Rosenbaum at the University of New South Wales (Australia) to assess experiences with and perceptions of Australian accredited exercise physiologists (AEPs) about the impact of sexual violence on individuals accessing their care.
Isabela Roque Marcal will collaborate with Jennifer Reed at the University of Ottawa (Canada) to systematically review the evidence of the impact of sex and gender on the effects of exercise interventions on physical and mental health in patients with atrial fibrillation.
Danish shooting stars competition
This year, on October 6th, the Danish Society for Psychosocial Medicine held its third ‘Shooting Stars’ competition at the Steno Diabetes Center in Copenhagen. The competition is for students who have recently submitted, or will soon submit their Master’s dissertation and aims to support and encourage potential young researchers to communicate their work to a wider, professional audience. The competition was initiated in 2018 and has, with the exception of a COVID induced hiatus in 2020, been held annually with great success ever since. In this year’s event, two judges, Professors Merete Nordentoft and Morten Hulvej Rod, were tasked with providing the contestants with feedback on the ten-minute oral presentations of their work. The judges provided each of the contestants with detailed feedback on the scientific quality and originality of their work and on their presentation style. As has been the case previously, the standard of presentations was exceptionally high, with a variety of topics and methods covered. These events always provide us with great optimism about the future of behavioral and psychosocial medicine, exemplifying both what the field is and what it can achieve, whilst at the same demonstrating that the future is in safe and very capable hands.
Asian Pacific webinar on Covid-19 vaccination
The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed millions of life and impacted all aspects of lives. To share valuable experience on vaccination, a webinar focusing on COVID-19 vaccination in five Asian Pacific countries and the U.K. was conducted on 20 August, 2021. It was organized by the Hong Kong Society of Behavioral Health (HKSBH), jointly with the International Society of Behavioral Medicine (ISBM), the Society Behavioural Health Singapore (SBHS), and the Australasian Society of Behavioural Health and Medicine (ABSBM), and was supported by the School of Public Health and Primary Care of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Members of the scientific committee included Prof Joseph Lau (President, HKSBH), Prof Kerry Sherman (President Elect, ISBM), Prof Konstadina Griva (President, SBHS), Dr Emily Kothe (President, ABSBM). A recording of the webinar is freely available through the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9W476nR38_A
The webinar was very well received and participated by over 450 participants of over ten countries/territories. It started with a welcome speech by Professor Anne Berman (President, ISBM). Presentations drew from the latest empirical evidence addressing behavioural, psychological, and policy determinants underlying COVID-19 vaccination. Prominent international speakers (alphabetic order) included Dr Mark Chen (National Centre for Infectious Diseases, Singapore), Prof Wu Fan (Fudan University, China), Dr Kate Faasse (University of New South Wales, Australia), Prof Stuart Gilmour (St Luke’s International University, Japan), Prof Susan Michie (University College London, United Kingdom), Prof Joseph Lau (The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China), Prof Julie Leask (University of Sydney, Australia), Prof Sauwakon Ratanawijitrasin (Mahidol University, Thailand), and Prof Martin Wong (The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China). Dr Feng Lei and Dr Emily Kothe kindly chaired the presentation session. The contents were highly interdisciplinary, involving behavioural health, public health, modelling, and policy analysis. The webinar concluded with a lively panel discussion moderated by Prof Kerry Sherman and Prof Samuel Wong of the CUHK, with speakers considering the successes and failures of different COVID-19 approaches and how we can ensure that behavioural medicine research can inform future policy on COVID-19.
The organizers would like to thank all the participants and the ISBM member societies that helped announcing the webinar. We believe that through working closely together and with the ISBM, member societies of the ISBM can create synergies that improve global health through advancement and good practice of behavioural medicine. The three societies are looking forward to collaborating together and working with other societies in the future.
This series is dedicated to researchers who have made outstanding contributions to the field of behavioural medicine. I am very excited that Emeritus Professor Joseph Tak Fai Lau of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, an internationally renowned expert in inter-disciplinary behavioural and mental health research, has agreed to be interviewed for this issue.
Dear Professor Lau, thank you so much for taking the time to answer the ISBM questions. The first one is: What initially drew you to the field of behavioural medicine?
Joseph Lau: I studied in Berkeley in the mid-eighties close to San Francisco, where the first HIV outbreak happened. Upon my returning to Hong Kong, I started the first HIV survey, joined governmental committees and started to work on HIV in China with some fascinating people. We found out that HIV is a complex interdisciplinary area that needs translation and dealing with real life and death problems. I was soon convinced that a clinical approach alone does not work. Gradually, I evolved from a public health worker to a behavioural health worker. My background with a social science bachelor’s degree and graduate degrees in biostatistics and demography might have facilitated the interdisciplinary work I later undertook.
Among your seminal contributions to behavioural medicine, which ones do you regard as most important?
Joseph Lau: I believe my work in HIV might have had some impact as I have been working closely with the Chinese CDC and the WHO. My work in psychological and behavioural responses to SARS and now COVID-19 has been widely followed. These contributions are small as translation is so difficult; I was fortunate enough to have been awarded the ISBM Distinguished Researcher Award this year.
"Unlike just two decades ago,
behavioral health is now a
regularly used term in China."
I may have created an impact by fostering behavioural health (or medicine) in Hong Kong and China. I did this by setting up several platforms such as the Hong Kong Society of Behavioral Health and the Interdisciplinary Academic Forum of Behavioral Health in mainland China, which soon evolved into the Division of Behavioral Health of the National Federation of Preventive Medicine in China, of which I am a Vice Director. Unlike just two decades ago, behavioural health is now a regularly used term in China. I also tried to be a middle man in building up behavioural health in Asia and I am very grateful that I was awarded the ISBM International Collaboration Award in 2019.
How has behavioural medicine evolved since the start of your career? What are some of the most important developments you have observed?
Joseph Lau: Frankly, I do not see any obvious paradigm shifts in the last two decades. I believe that behavioural medicine is fairly developed in Western countries, but still at an early stage globally. This is changing now, but Western countries continue to dominate the field.
Where do you currently locate the greatest gaps of knowledge in the field? Are there any neglected areas of research?
Joseph Lau: I see three major gaps. First, translation or the lack of translation is a key gap. In China and Asia, behavioural health or medicine are certainly not mainstream fields for which abundant funding is available, although their importance is increasingly recognized. One reason for this may be organisational, as behavioural medicine, according to the ISBM definition, is not a discipline. Great interventions are being developed, but they often remain untranslated academic exercises. Second, although there are good umbrella societies, such as the ISBM, the actual level of interdisciplinary integration remains rather weak. There does not seem to be a "behavioural medicine method/approach to subject matters". Third, interdisciplinary training is lacking in many countries. The ISBM may take a leading role in developing translational and implementation behavioural health and in creating training materials for international use.
"I enjoy the funny but nice feeling
of not belonging to any specific
What do you consider the “ingredients” of a meaningful career in behavioural medicine? What has been most important for you personally?
Joseph Lau: I guess the passion for solving real health problems and recognizing that this cannot be achieved without considering behaviour and psycho-socio-cultural factors fuels behavioural medicine workers. Curiosity in how other disciplines work and enjoyment in working with people of other disciplines are necessary and sometimes challenging; such endeavours have made my career far more interesting and rewarding than working as a biostatistician in a public health school. All in all, I enjoy the funny but nice feeling of not belonging to any specific discipline and it is feeling that keeps me attracted to behavioural health and medicine.
Joseph Tak Fai Lau, PhD, FFPH(UK), is Emeritus Professor at the Chinese University of Hog Kong and the current Director of the Centre for Health Behaviours Research, and also a Chair Professor of the Zhejiang University and an Honorary Research Fellow of the Tsing Hua University. Apart from being a prolific public health and behavioral health researcher with 580 peer-reviewed published articles, he has served as a consultant to numerous governmental and non-governmental organizations such as WHO, and in areas ranging from HIV to addictive behaviors, and most recently, COVID-19. Professor Lau has been the Founding President of the Hong Kong Society of Behavioral Health and has received the ISBM International Collaboration Award in 2019 and the ISBM Distinguished Scientist Award in 2021.
This section is dedicated to issues of global importance on which ISBM Member Societies from around the world are asked to comment. This time, our Member Societies were asked about how gender diversity is influencing and influenced by research in behavioural medicine in their countries, and what they consider the most important issues that need to be addressed. Here are their most intriguing answers:
Senior Researcher Bryan Cleal
President of the Danish Society of Psychosocial Medicine
"At face value, there is much to laud about the level of gender diversity within behavioral medicine and psychosocial research in Denmark. Both in terms of female representation and in relation to research concerning female health there has been clear progress made. The vestiges of structural inequalty remain, however, and women researchers still face a number of challenges regarding equal pay and equal opportunity in leader-ship positions. In terms of non-binary gender identities, awareness and understanding remain in a nascent stage and here there is a need for more progress to be made."
Professor Kaori Honjo
Member of the Japanese Society of Behavioral Medicine
"Globally speaking, a society with gender inequality tends to produce poor health individuals for both men and women. However, although Japanese society has severe gender inequalities, Japanese people, especially women enjoy the longest life expectancies in the world. One possible reason for this paradox could be the post-war Japanese welfare system designed around the male breadwinner/female housewife model. However, along with recent increasing social diversity, for example, increasing women-headed households, feminization of poverty is becoming a new social problem. Gender is a social characteristic and changes over place and time. It could be uniquely interesting to look at gender and heath in Japan through the lens of behavioral medicine."
Senior Lecturer Emily Kothe
President of the Hungarian Society of Behavioural Sciences and Medicine
"I am happy to say that gender equity/diversity is at the core of much of the research conducted by our members. However, one area that I personally would like to see greater focus on is consideration of behavioural medicine outside of the gender binary and research that includes the experiences of gender diverse people including trans and non-binary individuals. Gender diverse people often have negative experiences with the health care system and report poorer health outcomes. Making sure that our work is inclusive of the full spectrum of gender identities is essential to meet this challenge."
A list of current ISBM board members is available here.