Preventive Medicine Special Issues

PM Special Issue Cover

The November 2016 Special Issue of Preventive Medicine (PM) is the third in a series that focuses on behavior change, health, and health disparities. The first Special Issue appeared in November 2014 and the second in November 2015.  (A Supplemental Issue on Incentives and Health was published in 2012.) Contributors to these Special Issues are selected from participants in the VCBH's Annual Conference on Behavior Change, Health, and Health Disparities. 

This is a topic of critical importance to improving U.S. population health. There is broad scientific consensus that personal behaviors such as cigarette smoking, other substance abuse, and physical inactivity/obesity are among the most important modifiable causes of chronic disease and its adverse impacts on population health. Hence, effectively promoting health-related behavior change needs to be a key component of health care research and policy. 

Preventive Medicine Third Special Issue, November 2016

As health care systems in the United States and other industrialized countries are adapting to accommodate the increasing negative impact of cigarette smoking, other substance abuse and obesity, science is turning to personal behavior change for solutions.  

           To share the latest research in effectively managing these problems, Stephen T. Higgins, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and director of the Vermont Center on Behavior and Health (VCBH) at The Robert Larner, M.D. College of Medicine at The University of Vermont, collaborated with experts on a third annual special issue of the journal Preventive Medicine, titled “Behavior change, health, and health disparities.” 

            “We devote considerable space to the longstanding challenges of reducing cigarette smoking and use of other tobacco and nicotine delivery products in vulnerable populations, obesity, and for the first time food insecurity,” Higgins writes in his introduction. “Across each of these topics we include contributions from highly accomplished policymakers and scientists to acquaint readers with recent accomplishments as well as remaining knowledge gaps and challenges.”

            The takeaway, explains Higgins, is that effectively promoting health-related behavior change needs to be a key component of health care research and policy. And while these problems extend throughout the population, he adds, they disproportionately impact economically disadvantaged populations and other vulnerable populations and represent a major contributor to health disparities.

             The lead article, “American Health Improvement Depends upon Addressing Class Disparities,” is written by Steven A. Schroeder, M.D., distinguished professor of Health and Health Care in the Department of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco and former president/CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

            “The gap in health status between the United States and other (OECD) developed countries not only persists but has widened over the past decade,” writes Schroeder. “Smoking, as well as other problems, is now concentrated among the vulnerable members of our society: the poor and less educated, as well as disadvantaged groups such as those with mental illness and substance use disorders, the homeless, those who are incarcerated, and the LGBT community.”

            The Special Issue features 24 scientific papers about leveraging behavioral science.

Articles on the topic of behavioral economics include: 

 Articles on the topic of tobacco and nicotine delivery product use in vulnerable populations include: 

 Articles on the topic of reinforcement and obesity include:

Contributors to the Special Issue are selected from participants in the 2015 Annual Conference on Behavior Change, Health, and Health Disparities organized by the VCBH.

Special Issue: Behavior Change, Health, and Health Disparities

November 2015

Volume 80, Supplement, Pages 1-106 

Edited by Stephen T. Higgins

Special Issue: Behavior Change, Health, and Health Disparities

November 2014

Volume 68, Supplement, Pages S1-S80

Edited by Stephen T. Higgins


Supplemental Issue on Incentives and Health

November 2012

Volume 55, Supplement, Pages S1-S124 (1 November 2012) Incentives on Health

Edited by Stephen T. Higgins, Kenneth Silverman, Stacey C. Sigmon and Neal A. Naito