Behavior Analysis in Health, Sport, and Fitness Special Interest Group

By Julie M. Slowiak, Ph.D., BCBA-D

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 supports the continued growth of the application of behavior analysis in the areas of health, sport, and fitness (HSF) by setting goals that aim to improve visibility and awareness, support training and professional development needs, and promote and support research. In 2022, the HSF SIG Board of Directors evaluated the organization’s structure and made the decision to restructure the HSF SIG to better support its mission. In doing so, a variety of Volunteer Support roles were created to enhance engagement through member outreach, increase visibility and awareness of the HSF SIG and of the application of behavior analysis to HSF through internal and external communications, support practitioners seeking guidance on branching out into this area of specialization, promote awareness of HSF research, and provide financial support to graduate student researchers. Adding these roles offers new opportunities for students and professional members to be actively involved in the work of the organization.

The HSF SIG’s small research grant program is now in its fourth year. 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, HSF SIG was able to award three $500 grants in 2022. Recipients included: Amy Bukszpan, Endicott College (Faculty Supervisor: David J. Cox, Ph.D., M.S.B., BCBA-D), Jair Yepez Torres, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (Faculty Supervisor: Tyler Ré, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA), and Amber Lampert, Florida Institute of Technology (Faculty Supervisor: Rachael Ferguson, Ph.D.). Grant recipients presented their research at the 2023 ABAI Annual Convention as part of a symposium titled, Health, Sport and Fitness SIG Grant Recipients: Exciting New Areas of Research. Recipients of the 2023 HSF SIG Small Research Grant program were announced at the ABAI annual convention. The call for applications for the 2024 HSF SIG Small Research Grant program will be announced in late 2023, and applications will be due in February 2024. Our Annual Business Meeting was held virtually in June 2023. 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 2022 included growing our membership to the largest it’s been since the HSF SIG’s inception (and a 21.09% increase from the previous year), co-hosting professional development opportunities that highlight HSF practitioners, disseminating research via social media, and growing the small research grant program. 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 Member Outreach Manager at

Over the last year, the HSF SIG hosted a fun outreach activity for members, the HSF Practitioner Support Squad. Occurring several times throughout the year, 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 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.

HSF SIG Board Members include

Julie Slowiak, Ph.D., BCBA-D, University of Minnesota Duluth & InJewel LLC (Executive Director)

Sarah Burby, M.A., BCBA, Small Changes Health and Wellness Coaching LLC (President)

Jesse DePaolo, Ph.D., BCBA-D, University of South Florida (Treasurer/Secretary)

We would like to give special thanks to those members who have volunteered their time over the past year:

Amber Lampert, M.S., BCBA, Florida Institute of Technology & Acorn Health

Andrea Murray, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Capella University

Rocky Perez, M.A., Western Michigan University

Sharlet Rafacz, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Western Michigan University

Gabrielle Torres, M.S., BCBA, LBA, Find Your Balance
& Capella University

For more information, please go to our website (, Facebook Page (, or follow us on Instagram (@hsf.sig). 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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