Mechanisms of Behavior Change for Healthy Aging

Wednesday, May 8, 2019,
2-3pm ET (11am-12pm PT)

The problems facing our older population are complex, and it is unlikely that any single field’s methods and approaches will deliver global solutions. With this in mind, the goal of the NIA’s Research Centers Collaborative Network (RCCN) is to bring together scientists from multiple disciplines, including those in the 6 NIA Centers programs, to foster interdisciplinary collaborations around issues important to the health and well-being of older adults.

Behaviors are among the most important factors that determine longevity and quality of life. The NIH Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) program highlights a crucial opportunity for synthesis across the spectrum of basic laboratory science through behavioral intervention development. The goal of SOBC is to identify the key cognitive, affective, neural, and social/environmental mechanisms that underlie successful change in health behaviors like diet and exercise. SOBC promotes the experimental medicine approach—first identifying, then measuring, and finally influencing hypothesized mechanisms of behavior change--to determine whether changing a hypothesized mechanism results in real-world behavior change. The SOBC experimental medicine approach is the field’s necessary next step towards a more rigorous and reproducible future, in which we understand why each intervention works-- or never will.

This goal of this webinar was to introduce the NIH SOBC program and the experimental medicine approach at its core. Dr. Edmondson explained the SOBC rationale for changing the way the field conducts behavior change research, discussed ongoing studies in the SOBC Network and mechanisms of behavior change that have been identified to date, and offered tools and cross-disciplinary strategies for behavior change research with older adults.

Led by Donald Edmonson, PhD, MPH, Director of the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health,Columbia University Medical Center, this webinar explored:

  • What are the mechanisms that drive behavior change in studies of aging, and how can we measure these mechanisms of behavior change in research projects across disciplines?
  • How can behavioral interventions be more deeply informed by theoretical models, are new theories needed, and does every initiative need to be informed by a theory?
  • How can we create intervention designs that are practical, feasible, measurable, and affordable while yielding useful data?
  • What unique challenges lie in understanding and applying the science of behavior change approach to research or interventions to influence the health and well-being of older adults?

The webinar may be of special interest to researchers who are currently developing and testing interventions to engage older populations, as well as investigators interested in identifying mechanisms of behavior change in their own research or contributing their findings to the SOBC Measures Repository.

Q&A, moderated by Jay Magaziner, PhD, MSHyg, followed the presentation.

Download the presentation slides here.

About the Presenters

Donald Edmondson, PhD, MPH

Donald Edmondson, PhD, MPH


Jay Magaziner, PhD, MSHyg

Jay Magaziner, PhD, MSHyg


Member, RCCN Executive Committee.
Director, Center for Research on Aging, University of Maryland.
Professor and Chair, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health,
University of Maryland School of Medicine; Baltimore, MD.

Director of the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health, Columbia University Medical Center

Dr. Edmondson is a tenured Associate Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, and Director of the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health at CUMC. He leads the Columbia Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) Resource and Coordinating Center, which provides strategic leadership and coordination to the SOBC network, and promotes SOBC activities to external scientists and the public. SOBC scientists work to identify novel mechanisms of behavior change, validate measures of those mechanisms, and develop interventions to influence them, using an open, rigorous, and systematic experimental medicine approach.

Director, Center for Research on Aging, University of Maryland; Professor and Chair, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Maryland School of Medicine; Baltimore, MD

Dr. Magaziner is an internationally recognized expert in the epidemiology of aging, with specialization in recovery from hip fracture and other acute, disabling conditions. He has been conducting interdisciplinary research in aging for more than 35 years.