Director’s Voice Blog
Looking Forward: NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research in 2022.
by Acting OBSSR Director Christine Hunter, Ph.D., ABPP
I am excited to write my first blog as the Acting Director for the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research. We will miss Dr. Bill Riley’s leadership but the strong foundation he laid and the fantastic people that remain in the office and at NIH, will help ensure that his parting vision that “the next generation of behavioral and social science researchers will advance the field in ways I cannot even imagine” comes to fruition. I am pleased to have the opportunity to play a part in achieving this vision and keeping the research momentum going at the NIH. The new year is a good time to reflect on where we are going so I will use my first blog to briefly reflect on the past year but mostly focus on some of what we hope to achieve in 2022. Read Full Blog
Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Spotlights
The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on sleep and mental health of health care workers
The COVID-19 pandemic has strained healthcare systems and healthcare workers. In recent publications, researchers supported by the NHLBI, American Heart Association, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation assessed the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sleep patterns of health care workers (HCW) in New York City (NYC) and the downstream effects of sleep disturbances on their mental health. During the pandemic, health care workers have been under immense stress, leading many to leave their jobs, which has left many hospitals understaffed. With fewer health care workers on the job, the remaining staff must work more and longer shifts, which can worsen stress and sleep problems. Previous research has indicated the poor sleep may also trigger symptoms of depression and anxiety. Learn More
Education’s protective effect against midlife mental health challenges may be decreasing for Americans
Historically, Americans with more education tend to have more favorable health outcomes compared to Americans with less education. Although the education gradient still exists, recent data trends indicate that U.S. middle-aged adults, regardless of education, are reporting lower mental and physical health compared to the same-aged peers several decades ago. This begs the question: Is this education-health differential in cohorts also true in other countries during the same time period? A study sponsored by the NIA aimed to address this question. Read More
AI may help improve doctor-patient communication
Physician-patient communication is one of the most significant aspects of the health care process. An integral part of care is the achievement of “shared meaning” or “mutual understanding” between the physician and patient to encourage positive outcomes with diseases that require consistent regimens such as Type II diabetes. Precision medicine initiatives strive to develop tailored treatment plans for patients based on factors such as genetic makeup and lifestyle. Implementing precision medicine plans require communication between physician and patient to ensure positive outcomes. This NLM, NIDDK, and NSF funded study sought to understand physicians use of simple language versus their adaptation of written language to match the health literacy (HL) of patients and whether physicians’ tendency to use either strategy is associated with patient understanding. Go There Now
News and Events
NIH Matilda White Riley Honors Early-Stage Investigator Paper Competition Now Open [Deadline: January 31, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. ET]The NIH OBSSR Matilda White Riley Early-Stage Investigator (ESI) Paper Competition awards recognize emerging scientists whose research reflects Dr. Matilda White Riley’s vision of research excellence in health-related behavioral and social sciences.
ESI Paper Competition Open: January 16, 2022 – January 31, 2022
Submission Deadline: January 31, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. ET
Awardees Notified: April 5, 2022
OBSSR will invite up to four ESI awardees to present the findings from their accepted paper and participate in a moderated discussion of future research possibilities during the 15th NIH Matilda White Riley Behavioral and Social Sciences Honors, to be held virtually on Friday, June 3, 2022.
Visit the NIH Matilda White Riley Paper Competition website for details regarding eligibility criteria. A review committee of NIH scientists will consider all relevant submissions to assess both the potential impact or influence of the paper on the field and how well the paper meets the eligibility criteria.
Request for Information (RFI): Research Challenges and Needs in the Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Aggression
OBSSR, in partnership with NIAAA, NICHD, NIMH and NCCIH, recently released a RFI (NOT-OD-22-041) requesting information on the challenges and research gaps and opportunities that can best be addressed through a concerted and coordinated effort to enhance research on the biobehavioral contributions to aggressive behavior and its impact across the lifespan.
Specifically, respondents are asked to provide input on the following gaps and opportunities:
(1) in our fundamental understanding of biobehavioral mechanisms of aggression in humans and animals;
(2) in the development and use of methods, tools, technology, or other research resources to enable better characterization of the biological, psychological, and environmental mechanisms underlying aggressive behaviors and the biobehavioral impact of those experiencing aggression;
(3) in the identification of biomedical, behavioral, and psychosocial intervention targets for preventing and treating aggressive behavior and mitigating its impact on health and well-being;
(4) in the characterization of multimodal / multivariate approaches applicable to either primary or secondary data to understanding how other biological, behavioral and/or social/environmental factors such as alcohol and substance use or gender norms interact to influence aggression;
(5) in the considerations of ethical, legal, and social implications for research investigating the biobehavioral mechanisms of aggression, including implications for applied work in human research; and
(6) any other issues that NIH should consider that may advance research on identifying neurobiological mechanistic approaches and potential intervention targets for preventing/treating aggressive behavior and/or mitigating its impacts across the lifespan.
The comment period closes at 11:59pm ET on January 31, 2022. All comments must be submitted through the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/TLMC8BP
Apply for the 2022 Summer Institute on Randomized Behavioral Clinical Trials
The 22nd Summer Institute on Randomized Behavioral Clinical Trials will be held July 14 – 23, 2022 at the Bolger Hotel and Conference Center in Potomac, Maryland. The Institute is sponsored by OBSSR and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Applications are due by February 15, 2022.
The Summer Institute provides an intermediate/advanced course in planning, designing, and conducting high-impact randomized controlled trials of health-related behavioral interventions. It emphasizes programmatic research and prepares fellows to lead or collaborate on rigorous, high-impact behavioral trials and on systematic efforts to develop and improve health-related behavioral interventions. The Institute’s long-term goal is to build an outstanding scientific workforce that is able to plan and conduct the kinds of clinical trials that can change practice guidelines, health care policies, and third-party coverage for health-related behavioral interventions, and that can help to increase the role of evidence-based behavioral interventions in clinical and preventive services. By the end of this course, participants will be able to:
- Evaluate the evidentiary requirements of health care gatekeepers and the needs of stakeholders in health-related behavioral interventions.
- Formulate long-term goals for high-impact health-related behavioral intervention research programs.
- Use the best-fitting translational research models and intervention optimization frameworks to plan and conduct intervention research programs.
- Incorporate basic behavioral and social science findings and advanced methodologies in this research.
- Understand the role of interdisciplinary team science in high-impact behavioral intervention research.
- Produce a plan to disseminate the knowledge gained in this course.
Request for Information (RFI): Research Challenges and Needs in the Interaction of Sleep and Emotion Regulation to Improve Health and Well-being across Health Conditions
OBSSR, in partnership with NHLBI and NCI, recently released a RFI (NOT-OD-22-053) requesting information to gain feedback, comments, and novel ideas from members of the scientific community to help identify the needs and priorities of research on how the interaction between sleep and emotion regulation influences health and variety of disease processes. This information will be used to plan future activities and initiatives that can enhance the research in this area. Feedback on robust biomedical, behavioral, and neurophysiological mechanistic approaches to improve precise, novel targets for sleep and circadian interventions is requested.
Responses must be received by 11:59pm ET on February 28 , 2022, to be considered. All comments must be submitted electronically using the online comment form at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XS59566. “NOT-OD-22-053”.
Application Period Open: Michigan Integrative Well-Being and Inequality (MIWI) Training Program
The MIWI Training Program is a state-of-the-art, interdisciplinary methods training program that prepares participating scholars to investigate the intersection of mental and physical health, with an emphasis on how this intersection relates to health disparities. The training encompasses conceptual frameworks, study designs, data collection needs, and analytic approaches necessary to conduct this innovative research. The program includes an intensive 3-day summer institute in Ann Arbor, MI, followed by ongoing collaboration with a mentorship team. The MIWI Institute will be held from June 12-15, 2022 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
This program is funded by the National Institutes of Health through OBSSR and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). It is the only NIH-funded program focused on building the methodological expertise needed to address the intersection of mental and physical health. This program will support efforts to increase cross-pollination in interdisciplinary scientific teams, and foster an integrative approach to clinical care and health services programming that can better meet the needs of persons with comorbid mental and physical health conditions.
SBE COVID Population Data Science Awards
The NIH Social, Behavioral, and Economic (SBE) Health Impacts of COVID-19 Initiative, under the leadership of OBSSR, NIMH, NIMHD, NIA, and NINR, has funded supplement and intervention programs since its inception. The Initiative is currently setting up a Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research on COVID-19 Consortium consisting of a Coordinating Center and accompanying U01 projects.
The Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research on COVID-19 Consortium Coordinating Center (SBECCC) is spearheaded by the Dr. Margaret Levenstein at the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan. The SBECCC will foster innovation, collaboration, and synergies across researchers funded through the Social, Behavioral and Economic Research on COVID-19 Consortium (U01) program and other relevant NIH-funded studies by supporting networking activities intended to advance research in the field.
Thus far, eight cooperative agreements have been awarded as part of the consortium. See details
Event Recording: 2021 NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival
NIH OBSSR held its sixth NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Festival on November 18-19, 2021. The festival highlighted exciting research results, emerging areas, and innovations in health related behavioral and social sciences research (BSSR). This trans-NIH event enables efficient leveraging of NIH resources and expertise. The NIH BSSR Coordinating Committee members contribute diverse and comprehensive perspectives on the NIH BSSR portfolio, thus facilitating the selection of an outstanding array of research results that are highlighted at the festival. View the meeting agenda, speaker biographies, and recordings of the presentations on the OBSSR YouTube Channel (Day 1 and Day 2).
Updates for PATH Study PUF RUF BRUF Wave 5 Adult and Youth data files
The FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) and the NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) announce the release of the first in a series of restricted-use biomarker data files from Wave 5 of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study collected December 2018 – November 2019. This latest addition to the PATH Study’s Biomarker Restricted-Use Files (BRUF) includes urine panel assay data files, namely urinary nicotine metabolites (UNICM), creatinine (CREAU), metals, and volatile organic compounds metabolites (VOCM). The release also includes datafiles containing urine biomarkers of oxidative stress (F2PG2a) at Wave 3. Qualified researchers may apply for access through the PATH Study Biomarker Restricted-Use Files webpage at https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR36840.
In addition, updates were made to the Wave 5 Public-Use File (PUF), the Wave 5 Restricted-Use File (RUF), Wave 4 BRUF, the Wave 1 – Wave 4 VOCM BRUFs. Researchers may apply to access the RUF at https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR36231, and the PUF can be accessed at https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR36498. Restricted-Use Master Linkage Files were also updated and are available at https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR38008.
The Biospecimen Access Program webpage at http://bit.ly/2wBFOtc provides information on how to access the urine, serum, plasma, and genomic DNA (gDNA) collected from adult PATH Study participants during Wave 1 (2013-2014) and urine collected during Wave 2 (2014-2015), Wave 3 (2015-2016), Wave 4 (2016-2018), and Wave 5 (2018-2019).
The PATH Study is a household-based, nationally representative, longitudinal cohort study of youth (12-17 years old) and adults in the United States. The study was launched in 2011 to inform FDA’s regulatory activities under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. For the latest announcements, data releases and updates, new publications, upcoming events, and other information for PATH Study data users, join the PATH Study Data User Forum. The forum enables researchers using PATH Study data to submit and answer questions.
Questions about the collection, content, weighting, documentation, or structure of PATH Study data may be submitted to PATHDataUserQuestions@Westat.com (not to be used for questions about statistical analysis or analytic guidance).
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