Health, Sport, and Fitness SIG

Photo by Boxed Water Is Better on Unsplash

By Julie M. Slowiak

The mission of the Behavior Analysis in Health, Sport, and Fitness Special Interest Group (HSF SIG) is to educate, coordinate, and provide resources to behavior analysts and other members of society seeking to address human challenges in health, sport, and fitness through the application of the science of behavior analysis.

We strive to fulfill our mission through: (a) Educating behavior analysts and other members of society and increasing awareness, visibility, and understanding of the application of the science of behavior analysis to health, sport, and fitness; (b) disseminating information about the practice of behavior analysis and educational and training opportunities relevant to practice of behavior analysis in the areas of health, sport, and fitness; (c) providing a professional network and access to educational and training resources (e.g., continuing education events, mentorship opportunities) for its members; (d) obtaining financial resources to support research grants for behavior analysts who seek to conduct research with the objective to develop or evaluate behavior analytic interventions to resolve human challenges in health, sport, and fitness, and (e) collaborating with other non-profit organizations, healthcare agencies, and health, sport, and fitness professionals to maximize our impact on current efforts.

The HSF SIG organized as a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization in April 2019, and its annual strategic plan includes five strategy areas to support the continued growth of the practice of behavior analysis in the areas of health, sport, and fitness: (1) visibility and awareness, (2) business skills and entrepreneurship, (3) credentialing and payment, (4) training and professional development, and (5) research. Over the past year, HSF SIG members have moved the organization’s mission forward through their work within three Volunteer Committees. The primary aim of the HSF Visibility Committee is to increase the visibility of the HSF SIG, HSF SIG members, and the application of behavior analysis to the areas of health, sport, and fitness to behavior analysts and the general public. The primary aim of the HSF Professional Development Committee is to support, encourage, and promote the development of practitioner competence. Finally, the primary aim of the HSF Research Committee is to support, encourage, and promote health, sport, and fitness-related research within the field of behavior analysis and among current and prospective HSF SIG members. We elected a new HSF SIG director to fill a new officer position, the Membership & Outreach Manager, in Spring 2020. We anticipate that additional committees and leadership opportunities will be added as the organization continues to grow.

In January 2021, the HSF SIG accepted applications for its small research grant program. The purpose of this grant is to support graduate students who engage in experimental research to demonstrate the application of behavior analysis to address human behavior in the areas of health, sport, or fitness. Additional goals of this program are to disseminate behavior analytic research and practice and to expand research opportunities for graduate students of behavior analysis. With available donations received through fundraising and co-hosting continuing education events, the HSF SIG was able to award three $500 grants this year! Details for the 2022 HSF SIG Small Research Grant program will be announced in late 2021, and applications will be due in January 2022.

Our Annual Business Meeting was held virtually in June 2021. At this year’s meeting, we introduced members of the Board of Directors. We presented the HSF SIG’s mission, strategy areas, major goals, and opportunities for members to get involved. We also provided an overview of our accomplishments over the past year. Major accomplishments included growing our membership, co-hosting professional development opportunities that highlight HSF practitioners, disseminating research via social media, growing the small research grant program, and working with the editor of Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice to publish a special issue on behavior analysis in health, sport, and fitness.

One of our ongoing goals is to continue to increase visibility of the HSF SIG at the ABAI annual convention, as well as at state and regional conferences, through organizing fun activities for attendees that focus on maintaining healthy habits during travel and combating sedentary behavior while attending conferences. If conference organizers are interested in collaborating with us to organize a health and fitness-related event (whether in person or virtually), please email us at director@hsfsig.org.

We also took action during the summer toward the development of a structured mentorship program and are in the process of evaluating a pilot mentoring circle program. We hope this program will serve to connect members with mentors and allow for peer-to-peer mentoring among those who desire to re-specialize and/or practice in the areas of health, sport, and fitness.

Conversations among members continue to support the contention that several barriers and ethical considerations exist for those who desire to practice in the areas of health, sport, and fitness. In addition, opportunities to secure research and supervised fieldwork experiences in academic programs are limited by the small number of ABA faculty with expertise or interest in health, sport, and fitness, as well as limited course offerings. Our focus will be to continue to support those who are interested in practicing and conducting behavior-analytic research within the areas of health, sport, and fitness.

The current HSF SIG board includes: Julie Slowiak, Ph.D., BCBA-D, University of Minnesota Duluth (executive director); Natalie Juhlin, MS, BCBA, United States Army Reserves (president/secretary); Gabrielle Torres, MS, BCBA, LBA, Acorn Health (treasurer); and Rachel Foster, doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas, (Membership & Outreach manager). We would like to thank to those members who have served on our Volunteer Committees over the past year: Jessica Arriaga, MS, BCBA, Niles Township District for Special Education; Sarah Burby, MS, BCBA, Brett DiNovi & Associates; Nicole M. Davis, Ph.D., BCBA, Northeastern University; Kate Harrison, M.S., BCBA, Brett DiNovi & Associates; E. Justin Page, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBS, University of Pittsburgh; Rocky Perez, California State University, Fresno; and Sharlet Rafacz, Ph.D., California State University, Fresno.

For more information, please go to our website (www.hsfsig.org/), Facebook Page, or follow us on Instagram (@hsf.abai). If you’re interested in joining the HSF SIG, you will find details on our website. Membership is $10/ year for students and $20/year for professionals (we also offer a 2-year option for professionals). If you have any questions, want to contribute to our blog, or would like to take a more active role in the Behavior Analysis in Health, Sport, & Fitness SIG, please email us at director@hsfsig.org.

About Author