Report highlights need for more behavioral and social science research training at NIH

November 18, 1999

Behavioral and social factors are implicated in nine out of 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. However, less than 10 percent of National Institutes of Health (NIH) research training funds went to the behavioral and social sciences, a new report shows.

Research conducted by the Center for the Advancement of Health on behalf of the Health and Behavior Alliance analyzed NIH-provided research training data, reviewed activities at each NIH institute, presented findings from interviews with trainees and advisors, and made recommendations to NIH and policymakers.

"Behavioral and psychosocial factors influence the onset of some diseases, the progression of many, and the management of nearly all. We will never be able to realize the full promise of advances in biomedicine without a fuller understanding of these factors," said Jessie Gruman, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Health. "To do so, however, we must increase the amount and effectiveness of research training to build the nation's capacity to conduct interdisciplinary health and behavior research."

The report found that NIH in 1998 spent $64 million on behavioral and social science research training, out of $659 million spent on research training overall. This report represents the first comprehensive effort to study NIH-supported behavioral and social science research training.

"NIH and its institutes need to weigh the expected future burden of morbidity and mortality related to behavioral and social factors in health and disease," said Gruman. "They must fund the training and other programs that will equip scientists with the skills and knowledge to understand not only the mechanisms underlying these effects, but also develop interventions to ameliorate them."

Overall, behavioral and social science research trainees and their advisors interviewed for the report had high opinions of NIH training grants and felt that the most important priority was to make more such opportunities available.

The report examined behavioral and social science research training on an institute by institute basis. Two institutes (the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the National Institute of Mental Health) spent over 30 percent of their FY 1998 training funds on the behavioral and social sciences, while eight institutes spent five percent or less.

"One reason for low funding of behavioral and social sciences training may be that fewer applications are submitted," said Gruman. "We found that several factors influence the applicants decisions to apply for training grants, including knowledge and encouragement, compensation, preparation time, and perceived competition."

Full and condensed versions of the report, "Cultivating Capacity: Advancing NIH Research Training in the Health-Related Behavioral and Social Sciences," are available from the Center for the Advancement of Health. Please contact cfah@cfah.org to order.

The report was written by staff from the Center for the Advancement of Health with support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Nathan Cummings Foundation. It was prepared on behalf of the Health and Behavior Alliance, a group of 26 professional research societies working together to increase the priority of and resources devoted to health and behavior research.

The Center for the Advancement of Health focuses on the interactions of mental and physical states that influence health and illness, and the implications of these interactions for the design, operation, and effectiveness of the health care system.

The Health and Behavior Alliance is a group of 26 professional research societies working together to increase the priority of and resources devoted to health and behavior research. Current activities focus on: The Center for the Advancement of Health staffs the Alliance and regularly publishes the electronic newsletter HABIT (Health and Behavior Information Transfer), which provides information to the Health and Behavior Research Community. http://www.cfah.org/alliance/main.htm
-end-
Current Member Organizations of the Health and Behavior Alliance: Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine, American Academy of Nursing, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, American Pain Society, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, Div. 22, American Psychological Association, Div. 38, American Psychological Society, American Psychosomatic Society, American Society for Psychosocial and Behavioral Oncology/AIDS, American Sociological Association, Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine, College on Problems of Drug Dependence, Gerontological Society of America, Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research, International Psycho-Oncology Society, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, Society of Behavioral Medicine, Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, Society for Psychophysiological Research, Society for Public Health Education, Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco

Posted by the Center for the Advancement of Health http://www.cfah.org. For information about the Center, call Petrina Chong, pchong@cfah.org 202-387-2829.

Center for Advancing Health

Related Health Articles from Brightsurf:

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff.

Modifiable health risks linked to more than $730 billion in US health care costs
Modifiable health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking, were linked to over $730 billion in health care spending in the US in 2016, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health.

New measure of social determinants of health may improve cardiovascular health assessment
The authors of this study developed a single risk score derived from multiple social determinants of health that predicts county-level cardiovascular disease mortality.

BU study: High deductible health plans are widening racial health gaps
The growing Black Lives Matter movement has brought more attention to the myriad structures that reinforce racial inequities, in everything from policing to hiring to maternal mortality.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

E-health resource improves men's health behaviours with or without fitness facilities
Men who regularly used a free web resource made significantly more health changes than men who did not, finds a new study from the University of British Columbia and Intensions Consulting.

Mental health outcomes among health care workers during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and insomnia among health care workers in Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic are reported in this observational study.

Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.

Health records pin broad set of health risks on genetic premutation
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marshfield Clinic have found that there may be a much broader health risk to carriers of the FMR1 premutation, with potentially dozens of clinical conditions that can be ascribed directly to carrying it.

Attitudes about health affect how older adults engage with negative health news
To get older adults to pay attention to important health information, preface it with the good news about their health.

Read More: Health News and Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.