The Health Psychologist

Society for Health Psychology

Getting a Jump-Start on the Next Big Thing in Healthcare…AND…the Big Thing After That

2022 Fall, From the president, The Health Psychologist

Barbara Ward-Zimmerman, PhD

Barbara Ward-Zimmerman, PhD
Society for Health Psychology President

Calling All Members

With your vision, expertise, and collaboration the Society for Health Psychology can amplify its impact, routinely activating changes in healthcare and health outcomes by disseminating psychological science widely and expediently. Our Board has positioned the Society to proactively identify intersecting health and behavior needs in the areas of research, practice, education, policy, and advocacy and has primed us to respond quickly and nimbly as issues emerge. 

To fully actualize our potential, however, we now require strategic and formalized linkages within the Society across Members, Councils, Committees, Interest Groups, and Leadership, as well as between the Society and APA Divisions, Boards, Committees, and Task Forces, State Associations, and Organizations external to APA (both in and outside of the U.S.). Together we can weave our diverse areas of expertise and strengths into a stronger whole. 

This year we will focus on identifying gaps in our growing roster of cross-sector liaisons and establishing protocols to facilitate efficient and effective bidirectional communication and collaboration. The Board will initiate a brief and secure member survey with the goal of more equitably, inclusively, and quickly identifying members to serve as liaisons. Increased knowledge of member demographics, work settings, competencies, professional interests, and positions held in APA governance and organizations outside of APA will help to inform matches between needs and expertise. 

Beyond assisting to identify potential liaisons, the survey will also provide increased knowledge of member characteristics, facilitating identification of those to be considered for a range of Society roles and honors (e.g., sharing scholarship, serving as a mentor, advancing advocacy, contributing to policy development, assuming leadership positions, and eligibility for awards). Although we look forward to learning more about each of you through the survey, we welcome direct inquiries about opportunities for participation in Society activities and input about your passions and the positions you hold outside of the Society that offer the possibility for collaboration. Please contact Barbara Keeton ( or me ( to create a line of communication.  

To stimulate your thinking, here are a few examples of collaborations currently underway that amplify the Society’s voice and impact: 

  • Drs. Dan Bruns (Member of the Clinical Health Services Council and Chair of the Pain Psychology Interest Group) and Shawna Ehlers (Chair of the Clinical Health Services Council) serve as our liaisons to the Interdivisional Healthcare Committee (IHC) where the Health and Behavior Codes were initiated and a recommendation was formulated to assist the American Medical Association in choosing a standardized measure of function to adopt in their Guides to Impairment. (Other IHC participants include Divisions 12 (Section 2), 17, 22, 42, 43, and 54 as well as a representative from the APA Board of Professional Affairs and APA staff.)   
  • Dr. Stacy Ogbeide serves as our liaison to the Interdivisional Integrated Primary Care (IPC) Advisory Group in the Practice Directorate where IPC informational materials were developed for use by APA staff in their advocacy efforts nationwide 
  • Dr. John Ruiz (our new Health Psychology Editor) serves as the Chair of the Behavioral Medicine Research Council, an interorganizational group comprised of four U.S.-based behavioral medicine societies as well as other allies (and initiated by Dr. Ken Freedland, Health Psychology Editor), focused on increasing impact on population health by facilitating coherence in the field. Dr. Barbara Andersen, immediate Past-President of the Society serves as a liaison to this Council.
  • Dr. Kim Smolderen (Chair of the Society’s Health Advocacy and Policy Council) serves as our liaison to APA’s Advocacy Office and is working with Dr. Stephen Gillaspy in the Practice Directorate to establish an Interdivisional Integrated Specialty Care Advisory Group 
  • Dr. Claire Conley (Communications Council Chair) functions as the ‘hub’ for all of our communications Editors
  • Dr. Stephanie Fitzpatrick (Member-At-Large) serves on the APA Advocacy Coordinating Committee  
  • Dr. Zeehan Butt (former Society President and upcoming Council Representative for the Society) currently serves on APA’s Board of Professional Affairs
  • Dr. Jennifer Ferrand (Clinical Health Services Council Member) has established a Health Psychology Division in her State Association 
  • Dr. Julie Radico (Society Council Representative) serves on the Committee on Division/APA Relations (CODAPAR)  
  • Dr. Matt Burg (Health Research Council Member) serves as the “Science Partner” to APA’s Science Directorate 
  • The Integrated Primary Care (IPC) Interest Group, under the leadership of its Chair, Dr. Yajaira Johnson-Esparza, is collaborating with several other APA Divisions to establish a database to house state-specific legislation facilitating the integration of care   
  • Our APA Council Representatives (Drs. Amy Williams, Susan McDaniel, and Julie Radico), along with Past-President, Dr. Helen Coons, spearheaded a collaborative work group comprised of representatives from various Divisions and APA staff to develop a Population Health New Business Item adopted by APA’s Council of Representatives (2/22)   

As notable as this list is, it represents only a sampling of the important collaborations our members engage in on behalf of the Society. With that said, countless collaborations await to be established. There is a role for you! 

(On a related note, please let us know if you serve in a professional leadership position or hold an appointment that you think we are unaware of.)     

Future health challenges may be unpredictable but by working together we can ensure that the Society for Health Psychology proactively, responsively, and collaboratively promotes psychological science, informing the healthcare community and generating positive health outcomes.

Together we can get a jump-start on the next big thing in healthcare AND the big thing after that.

Collaboration in Action: (L) Dr. Valeria Martinez-Kaigi, Associate Chair, Health Advocacy and Policy Council, (M) Dr. Barbara Ward-Zimmerman, SfHP President, (R) Dr. Kim Smolderen, Chair, Health Advocacy and Policy Council