The purpose of the current study is to assess (1) health behavior researchers’ opinions on significant new foci emerging over the next 20 years, (2) disciplines that can serve as important partners, and (3) adjustments needed for doctoral training programs to prepare researchers for emerging trends. A two-wave modified Delphi procedure was employed to assess opinions and perspectives of current health behaviors researchers. Participants were recruited through email invitations sent to the membership listserv of the American Academy of Health Behavior. In Wave I, respondents generated up to three ideas for each of four prompts: (1) the biggest game changers in health behavior research, (2) the disciplines most important to partner with, and (3) what should be added or (4) removed from doctoral training programs. In Wave II, participants rated the importance of each of the responses generated in the first wave. 39 and 48 people completed Waves I and II, respectively. Wave I yielded 46 respondent-generated items for the new foci, and 28 different partner disciplines. Respondents identified 47 topics not currently covered in health behavior Ph.D. programs, and 8 topics that should be removed from current Ph.D. programs. Seven new foci were endorsed by 80% or more of the respondents, including studying cultures of illness and health, as well as better operationalization of social-ecological models. Seven disciplines were seen as essential partners by at least two-thirds of the respondents, including public health, biostatistics, and public policy. Five additions to doctoral programs were endorsed by 80% or more of the respondents, including stronger research skills, advanced statistical methods, writing, and evaluation. Years since earning a doctoral degree was negatively correlated with a number of suggested new foci, disciplines to partner with, and areas that should be added to health behavior Ph.D. programs. There was a high level of consensus about potential new foci in the field, focusing on population health, stronger scientific techniques, and more research training. There was less consensus on related disciplines’ potential, based on the respondents’ type of work and field. Overall, results have potential to shape doctoral training and preparation of future health behavior researchers.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License