Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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Symposium #188
CE Offered: BACB
Community Interventions: A Pathway to More Nurturing Societies?
Sunday, May 28, 2023
11:00 AM–12:50 PM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 2B
Area: CSS; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Andrew C Bonner (Northeastern University)
Discussant: Dennis D. Embry (PAXIS Institute)
CE Instructor: Andrew C Bonner, Ph.D.

This symposium is intended to advance efforts by behavior analysts to increase the prevalence of communities that nurture the wellbeing of all their residents. The symposium will present four papers that are intended to illustrate the progress that is possible if we invest in community interventions, particularly in communities of greatest disadvantage. The first paper argues that community interventions can be the critical building block for evolving more nurturing societies. It outlines what a comprehensive approach to assisting communities in addressing their most pressing problems can look like. The second paper will focus on approaches to youth violence prevention and will discuss use of the socioecological model to inform community intervention across levels to affect not only violence prevention, but also structural determinants influencing violence including racism. The third paper describes that things that can be done to reduce tobacco use in communities. The fourth focuses on how communities can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our discussant will consider how this work can contribute to evolving a more nurturing society.

Instruction Level: Basic
Keyword(s): Climate Change, Community Intervention, Tobacco Control, Youth Violence
Target Audience:


Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) describe a framework for conducting comprehensive community interventions; (2) describe how the socioecological model can be used to inform community interventions; (3) describe a community-based approach to addressing youth violence prevention, tobacco control, and climate change.
Evolving More Nurturing Communities
ANTHONY BIGLAN (Oregon Research Institute), Andrew C Bonner (Northeastern University)
Abstract: This presentation will make the case that efforts to address the inequities that are undermining well-being of a significant portion of Americans needs to start with work at the community level. Black, Indigenous, Native American, Hispanic, LGBTQ+, Intellectually and developmentally delayed, and poor white communities are faced with numerous inequities in their daily life. This presentation will briefly summarize the inequities that undermine well-being and ultimately contribute to the large disparities in premature death that exist in the United States. It will then describe how communities can be assisted in coming together around a shared vision of the qualities they want in their community, how those qualities can be promoted, and how the community can pinpoint specific inequities and create action circles to reduce inequities. Among the inequities for which evidence-based programs and policies are available are disparities in reading proficiency, disparities in school suspensions, police stops, arrests, and incarceration. Members of disadvantaged communities also experience frequent aversive interactions, which contribute to cardiovascular disease and premature death. The presentation will sketch how a community intervention can mobilize efforts not only to address specific inequities, but to increase the degree to which people are kind, caring, respectful of one and other.
ThrYve: Promoting Wellbeing Using a Socioecological Approach to Prevent Youth Violence
JOMELLA WATSON-THOMPSON (University of Kansas), Valerie Thompson (University of Kansas), Malika N. Pritchett (University of Kansas), Joshua Harsin (University of Kansas)
Abstract: Youth violence adversely impacts the health and wellbeing of our youth and communities. Youth homicide is the second leading cause of death for all youth, and the leading cause for Black youth ages 15 to 24 (CDC, 2022). A socioecological approach can inform community interventions across levels to affect not only violence prevention, but also structural determinants influencing violence including racism. Together Helping Reduce Youth Violence for Equity (ThrYve) is a community-based participatory approach to address youth violence that is implemented by the Youth Violence Prevention Center- Kansas City. ThrYve supports a comprehensive process that is multilevel (i.e., implements strategies across socio-ecological levels) and multisectoral (e.g., engages law enforcement, youth serving organizations, schools) to facilitate change across the environment. Based on the socioecological approach, ThrYve examines social and structural determinants of health that serve as antecedents to youth violence particularly for racial and ethnic youth. ThrYve engages more than 40 community partners across 16 sectors, including youth, through a Systems Advisory Board (SAB). The ThrYve SAB supports the implementation of community and system changes (i.e., program, policy, and practice changes) across socioecological levels through cross-sector collaboration to address youth violence and related factors or determinants of health and wellbeing.
Achieving the Tobacco Endgame: A Multifaceted Approach to Strengthening Community-Based Interventions
CASSANDRA O'HARA (University of Florida), Jesse Dallery (University of Florida)
Abstract: Reductions in smoking are perhaps the greatest public health success of all time. The observed reductions in smoking over the last 50 years have been produced by a range of preventive and reactive interventions. At the federal level, warnings from the surgeon general influenced public opinion and the people vs. Philip Morris made it illegal to market cigarettes to youth. At the community level, interventions such as reward and reminder (e.g., Biglan et al., 2000) have influenced youth not to smoke. At the individual level, consequence-based interventions such as contingency management have produced increased abstinence in people who smoke (e.g., Dallery et al., 2008). Despite the success of the tobacco control movement, continued interference by the tobacco industry, particularly in the advent of innovations targeting youth such as vaping, calls for continued action and research in this area. A multifaceted approach to achieving the tobacco endgame is needed (Willet et al., 2021). Modern technology may broaden the accessibility of interventions targeting smoking cessation (Dallery et al., 2019). How the tobacco control movement can serve as a model for large scale change and implications for future research are discussed.
A Community-Driven Approach to Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The Importance of Scaling and Coalition Building
ANDREW C BONNER (Northeastern University), Anthony Biglan (Oregon Research Institute)
Abstract: One thing the COVID-19 pandemic taught us is that when the global community comes together around shared goals, large-scale effective action is possible. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions, global lockdowns in 2020 led to the largest reductions in emissions seen in decades. However, these reductions were produced by alterations in people’s lifestyles, most of which are not tenable solutions to climate change. Therefore, the challenge to global climate change community is to develop strategies to reduce emissions (of the type observed during the COVID-19 pandemic) without forcing citizens to stay at home in isolation. More than 50 years of behavior-analytic research shows that a large range of strategies are effective at influencing people’s carbon footprints, but less attention has been dedicated to scaling these solutions and building the coalitions needed to produce large-scale reductions in emissions. This talk will trace a pathway from interventions that are effective with small groups, to large-scale interventions, and finally to multisector community interventions. Implications for future research are discussed.



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