Bonnie Spring

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Bonnie Spring
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CitizenshipUnited States of America
EducationB.A. degree in psychology
Alma mater
  • Bucknell University
  • University of Liverpool
OccupationClinical Health Psychologist

Bonnie Spring is an American Clinical Health Psychologist who is currently Professor of Preventive Medicine, Psychology, and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University and Director of the Institute for Public Health and Medicine – Center for Behavior and Health in the Feinberg School of Medicine. She is also Director of Behavioral Medicine in the Department of Preventive Medicine, Co-Leader for Cancer Prevention in the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Director of Team Science for the Northwestern University Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.


Spring earned her B.A. degree in psychology from Bucknell University and completed junior year studies at University of Liverpool. In 1971, she was awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship to Harvard University’s PhD program in Psychology and Social Relations, with concentrations in personality and developmental psychology and experimental psychopathology. She earned the Masters degree in 1975 and the PhD in 1977 with support from a NIMH Predoctoral Fellowship and a Scottish Rite Schizophrenia Foundation Dissertation Research Fellowship. She collected her dissertation data on schizophrenia at New York State Psychiatric Institute and Brooklyn State Hospital, under the mentorship of Brendan Maher (Harvard) and Joseph Zubin (Columbia).


Spring became Assistant Professor of Psychology at Harvard in 1977 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1982. After completing a clinical psychology internship at Harvard’s Massachusetts Mental Health Center during her sabbatical year, she earned clinical psychology licensure and subsequently became board-certified (ABPP) in health psychology. She moved to become Professor of Psychology and Director of Clinical Training at Texas Tech University in 1984. In 1988, she became Professor of Psychology at University of Health Sciences/The Chicago Medical School (now Rosalind Franklin University) and Health Science Officer at the North Chicago VA. Later, she shifted her VA appointment to Research Scientist at Hines Hospital in Maywood, IL and, in 1998, moved to become Professor of Psychology at University of Illinois – Chicago. In 2005, she accepted a position as Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. Spring has held adjunct faculty appointments in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences at MIT, the Departments of Psychiatry at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, Harvard University Medical School, and University of Maryland, and the Department of Oncological Sciences at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. She has also been an Honorary Visiting Professor, at the University of Newcastle – Australia, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia


After spending a decade studying vulnerability to schizophrenia [1], Spring turned her attention to the chronic disease risk behaviors that jeopardize patients’ physical health. She examined motives for smoking [2] and overeating [3], with the aim of developing effective interventions. Struck by the observation that few adults have just one behavioral risk factor, she studied a common pairing - smoking and obesity – because many people cite fear of gaining weight as a reason for not attempting to quit. Her clinical trials of drug and behavioral treatments showed greatest success for a sequential behavioral strategy that treats smoking first, followed by weight [4-5], an approach that influenced tobacco treatment guidelines and was later trialed via the U.S. tobacco telephone quit lines.

Seeking to efficiently treat multiple co-occurring risk behaviors that affect much of the population [6-7], Spring compared different strategies to address low fruit and vegetable intake, high saturated fat, low moderate-vigorous physical activity, and high sedentary screen time among adults with all four risk behaviors. She found that behavioral treatment targeting fruits and vegetables and screen time produced large, sustained improvement in the targeted behaviors as well as “tag-along” improvement in saturated fat [8]. Because physical activity did not improve unless directly targeted, Spring next tested whether to add that intervention component simultaneously or sequentially. Both approaches produced comparably large, sustained improvement in risk behaviors, yielding healthy lifestyle changes that she had previously found to be associated with reduced odds of developing coronary artery calcification by midlife [10].

Beginning with multiple behavior change interventions and extending through trials of obesity treatment, Spring deployed mobile technologies (PDAs, smartphone apps, wearable sensors) and connected telephone coaching to extend the reach of behavioral interventions by delivering them remotely. She was the first scientist to succeed at using mobile technology to improve multiple risk behaviors simultaneously [8], and subsequently to produce meaningful weight loss [11]. She demonstrated that diverse population subgroups — low-income minorities, elderly, underinsured —can successfully use technology for health promotion [11-13]. Her most recent work has shown how applying engineering optimization methods can make obesity interventions highly cost effective [14].

A consistent theme of Spring’s work has been advancing research to practice translation. Towards that end, she founded and served as editor-in-chief of the journal, Translational Behavioral Medicine: Practice, Policy, Research. To help investigators from different fields learn to practice interdisciplinary team-based translational research, she developed the set of free online learning modules: Her papers conveying evidence-based practice principles to psychologists [15] were impactful in influencing the American Psychological Association to adopt evidence-based practice guidelines [16], and she advocated successfully for one of the first guidelines to address prevention and treatment of a physical health condition: childhood obesity.  To support effective collaboration among professional disciplines seeking to implement evidence-based practices, she assembled a national task force of experts in medicine, nursing, psychology, social work, and public health, which created the series of free online learning modules: [17-18]

Honors and Awards

Spring’s many honors for teaching, research, and service include a Distinguished Teaching and Research Award from the Texas Tech University College of Arts and Sciences, the Morris L. Parker Award for Meritorious Scientific Research from Rosalind Franklin University, a University Scholar Award from University of Illinois – Chicago, a Humanitarian Award from the Illinois Psychological Association, election to Fellow status in the American Psychological Association’s Divisions of Health, Clinical, Psychopharmacology, Experimental, and General Psychology, as well as the Society of Behavioral Medicine, the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, and the American Heart Association. She has also been the recipient of Distinguished Research Mentor, Distinguished Service, Research to Practice Translation, Distinguished Leadership, and Distinguished Scientist Awards from the Society of Behavioral Medicine, and an e-Health Pioneer Award from The Obesity Society. The American Psychological Association honored her with a Presidential Commendation for Exceptional Contributions to Health Psychology, as well as a Presidential Citation for Innovative Research and Leadership in Health Psychology, and for Vision in Incorporating Technology into Practice and Training.

Professional Leadership and Service

Among many national leadership roles, Spring served two terms as a member of the standing NIH behavioral medicine study section (BMED, PRDP), including one as chair. She also chaired the American Heart Association’s Behavior Change Committee and served on the steering committee for the Health Education Summit on the Patient-Centered Home co-sponsored by the Jimmy Carter Center and the American College of Physicians. For the American Psychological Association, she served on the Advisory Steering Committee to establish Evidence-Based Treatment Guidelines and, subsequently, chaired the Board of Scientific Affairs. After serving as President of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, she also chaired the Trans-Society Council on Training for Evidence-Based Practice Co-Sponsored by the American Psychological Association Division 38 (Health Psychology), Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, American Psychosomatic Society, Society of Behavioral Medicine, and Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapy.

Spring has held many editorial roles for professional journals, acting as Editor for

North and South America of Human Cognitive and Experimental Studies for

Psychopharmacology, and as Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief for

Translational Behavioral Medicine: Practice, Policy, Research. She also served as Consulting Editor for Psychological Bulletin, Clinical Psychological Science, Health Psychology, J. Consulting and Clinical Psychology, Clinical Psychology, J. Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, and J. Social and Clinical Psychology.

Selected Publications

  1. Zubin J., & Spring B. Vulnerability: A new view of schizophrenia. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. 1977;86(2):103-26. doi: 10.1037/0021-843X.86.2.103
  1. Spring B., Pingitore R., & McChargue D.E. Reward value of cigarette smoking for comparably heavy smoking schizophrenic, depressed, and nonpatient smokers. The American journal of psychiatry. 2003;160(2):316-22. PMID: 12562579.
  1. Spring B., Schneider K., Smith M., Kendzor D., Appelhans B., Hedeker D., & Pagoto S. Abuse potential of carbohydrates for overweight carbohydrate cravers. Psychopharmacology. 2008;197(4):637-47. PMCID: PMC2829437.
  1. Spring B., Pagoto S., Pingitore R., Doran N., Schneider K., & Hedeker, D. Randomized controlled trial for behavioral smoking and weight control treatment: effect of concurrent versus sequential intervention. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2004;72(5):785-96. Epub 2004/10/16. PMCID: PMC4008866
  1. Spring B., Howe D., Berendsen M., McFadden H.G., Hitchcock K., Rademaker A.W., & Hitsman B. Behavioral intervention to promote smoking cessation and prevent weight gain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Addiction (Abingdon, England). 2009;104(9):1472-86. PMCID: PMC2728794
  1. Spring B., Moller A., & Coons, M. Multiple health behaviours: overview and implications. Journal of public health (Oxford, England). 2012;34(Suppl 1):i3-i10. PMCID: PMC3284863.
  1. Spring B., King A., Pagoto S., Van Horn L., & Fisher J. Fostering multiple healthy lifestyle behaviors for primary prevention of cancer. The American psychologist. 2015;70(2):75-90. PMCID: PMC4626078.
  1. Spring B., Schneider K., McFadden H.G., Vaughn J., Kozak A.T., Smith M., Moller A.C., Epstein L.H., DeMott A., Hedeker D., Siddique J., & Lloyd-Jones D.M. Multiple Behavior Change in Diet and Activity: A Randomized Controlled Trial Using Mobile Technology. Archives of internal medicine. 2012;172(10):789-96. PMCID: PMC3402206.
  1. Spring, B., Pellegrini, C.A., McFadden, H.G., Pfammatter, A.F., Ph.D., Stump, T.K., Juned Siddique, J., King, A.C., Hedeker, D. (2018) Multicomponent mHealth intervention for large, sustained change in multiple diet and activity risk behaviors: Make Better Choices 2 RCT. J Med Internet Res. 20(6):e10528; PMCID: PMC6030572
  1. Spring B., Moller A.C., Colangelo L.A., Siddique J., Roehrig M., Daviglus M.L., Polak J.F., Reis J.R., Sidney S., & Liu K. Healthy lifestyle change and subclinical atherosclerosis in young adults: Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. Circulation. 2014;130(1):10-7. PMC4615574.
  1. Spring B., Schneider K., McFadden H.G., Vaughn J., Kozak A.T., Smith M., Moller A.C., Epstein L.H., DeMott A., Hedeker D., Siddique J., & Lloyd-Jones D.M. Multiple Behavior Change in Diet and Activity: A Randomized Controlled Trial Using Mobile Technology. Archives of internal medicine. 2012;172(10):789-96. PMCID: PMC3402206.
  1. Pfammatter A., Spring B., Saligram N., Dave R., Gowda A., Blais L., Arora M., Ranjani H., Ganda O., Hedeker D., Reddy S., Ramalingam S. mHealth Intervention to Improve Diabetes Risk Behaviors in India: A Prospective, Parallel Group Cohort Study. Journal of medical Internet research. 2016;18(8):e207. PMCID: PMC4992169.
  1. McDermott, M.M., Spring, B., Treat-Jacobson, D., Tian, L., Guralnik, J.M., Ferrucci, L., Donald Lloyd-Jones, D., Zhao, L., Polonsky, T., Kibbe, M.R., Criqui, M.H., Bazzano, L., Forman, D., Zhang, D., Rego, A., Domanchuk, K., Leeuwenburgh, C., Smith, B., Sufit, R., Manini, T., Rejeski, W.J. Low vs. high intensity home-based walking exercise to improve walking performance in peripheral artery disease: The LITE Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA, 2021, 325(13):1266-1276. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.2536
  1. Spring, B., Pfammatter, A.F., Marchese, S.H., Stump, T., Pellegrini, C., McFadden, H.G., Hedeker, H., Siddique, J., Jordan, N., Collins, L.M. A factorial experiment to optimize remotely delivered behavioral treatment for obesity: Results of the Opt-IN study. Obesity, 2020, 28(9), 1652-1662. PMID: 32656994
  1. Spring, B. (2007) Evidence-Based Practice in Clinical Psychology: What it is; Why it matters; What you need to know. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 63(7), 611-631. PMID: 17551934.
  1. Hollon S.D., Areán P.A., Craske M.G., Crawford K.A., Kivlahan D.R., Magnavita J.J., Ollendick T.H., Sexton T.L., Spring B., Bufka L., Galper D., Kurtzman H. Development of clinical practice guidelines. Annual review of clinical psychology. 2014;10:213-41. Epub 2014/04/01. doi: 10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-050212-185529. PubMed PMID: 24679179.
  1. Spring, B., Hoffman, S., Steglitz, J. (2019) History and Process of Evidence-Based Practice in Mental Health. In S. Dimidjian (Ed.) Evidence Based Practice in Action (pp. 9-27) New York: Guilford Press
  1. Satterfield J., Spring B., Newhouse R., Mullen E., Brownson R., Walker B. & Whitlock E. Toward a Transdisciplinary Model of Evidence-Based Practice. The Milbank quarterly. 2009;87(2):368-90. PMCID: PMC2698591.


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