Behavior Analysis in Health, Sport, and Fitness

Photo by Austris Augusts 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.

Additional leadership opportunities have been added as the organization continues to grow. In addition to creating Lead Committee positions within the three volunteer committees, a new director position was established in Spring 2021 to fill a new officer position, the Communications Manager. The Communications Manager participates as a member on the HSF Visibility Committee and leads and oversees other volunteers involved with the SIG’s website, blog, newsletter, and social media platforms.
In February 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 2023 HSF SIG Small Research Grant program will be announced in late 2022, and applications will be due in February 2023.

Our Annual Business Meeting was held virtually in June 2021. At this year’s meeting, we introduced new 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 during 2021 included growing our membership to the largest it’s been since the HSF SIG’s inception, co-hosting professional development opportunities that highlight HSF practitioners, disseminating research via social media, and growing the small research grant program. In addition, the special issue “Behavior Analysis in Health, Sport, and Fitness” was published in Behavior Analysis: Research and Practice in August 2021. The HSF SIG recognizes the efforts of lead guest editor, Dr. Julie Slowiak, guest editors, Dr. Raymond Miltenberger and Dr. Carole Van Camp, and editor, Dr. Joel Ringdahl, for their great effort in making the special issue come to fruition.

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 our Membership and Outreach Manager at

In late 2021, the Board of Directors approved a new HSF SIG-sponsored outreach activity for members, the HSF Practitioner Support Squad. Occurring monthly, the HSF Practitioner Support Squad meetings provide a space where BCBAs, or individuals training to become BCBAs can connect with one another in a laid-back environment to collaborate, troubleshoot, and brainstorm ways to continue to disseminate the science of ABA into the areas of heath, 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 members include:
  • Julie Slowiak, Ph.D., BCBA-D, University of Minnesota Duluth & InJewel LLC (Executive Director)
  • Sarah Burby, M.A., BCBA, Brett DiNovi and Associates & Small Changes Health and Wellness Coaching LLC (President/Secretary)
  • Gabrielle Torres, M.S., BCBA, LBA, Finding Balance LLC (Treasurer); and
  • Rachel Foster, M.A., BCBA, Doctoral Candidate at the University of Kansas, (Membership & Outreach Manager)
  • We would like to give special thanks to those members who have served on our Volunteer Committees over the past year:
  • Jessica Arriaga, M.S., BCBA, QBS
  • Janet Dai, M.A., BCBA, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
  • Nicole M. Davis, Ph.D., BCBA, Northeastern University
  • Caitlin Eccleston, Master’s Candidate, Pepperdine University
  • ShaeLyn Harris, M.Ed, BCBA, Cusp Collective
  • E. Justin Page, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBS, University of Pittsburgh
  • Rocky Perez, M.A., Western Michigan University
  • Sarah Perrault, M.A., BCBA, LABA
  • Sharlet Rafacz, Ph.D., BCBA-D, California State University, Fresno
  • Carole Van Camp, Ph.D., BCBA-D, University of North Carolina Wilmington

For more information, please go to our website (, 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

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