New NIH Adherence FOAs published

These new funding opportunities on Adherence direct people to SOBC resources and encourage their use:

Improving Patient Adherence to Treatment and Prevention Regimens to Promote Health  –  R01  – R21


This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) is being issued by the NIH Adherence Network through the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) with participation from multiple NIH Institutes and Centers. This FOA calls for research grant applications which address patient adherence to treatment and prevention regimens in healthcare to promote health outcomes. This FOA accepts applications that either propose or do not propose a clinical trial(s).

Applications under this FOA are encouraged, but not required, to apply approaches and tools developed under the NIH Common Fund’s Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) Program. These include: use-inspired basic research on mechanisms of change at multiple levels of analysis; assays for self-regulation, interpersonal processes and stress that have evidence as malleable targets for behavior change (see developed under the SOBC program; and an experimental medicine approach which requires a clear a priori specification of the intended mechanistic target(s) of an intervention, and methods that test the degree to which an experimental manipulation or intervention engages those targets.

For more information about the SOBC program, please see:


Journal of Behaviour and Research Therapy, Special Issue on the Science of Behavior Change

Members of the SOBC research network collaborated on a newly published special issue in the Journal of Behaviour and Research Therapy titled, Special Issue on the Science of Behavior Change (Feb. 2018). This issue introduces readers to the SOBC network, provides examples of how the mechanistic, experimental-medicine approach to behavior change research is currently being implemented, and showcases emerging research within the network. The issue features seven papers focusing on the vital research of the network members. This work spans important and diverse topics that are each highly relevant to progress in the SOBC mission, including all of the following (and more): the ontology of self-regulation; the ingredients of mindfulness; the most promising stress response targets for interventions; self-efficacy, executive function, temporal discounting as mechanisms by which stress may affect health behaviors; coercive interpersonal relationships; self-regulation in children; and virtual reality measures of self-regulation. read more »


Aerobic Exercise May Improve Cognitive Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Exercise training may delay the decline in cognitive function that occurs in individuals who are at risk of or have Alzheimer’s disease, with aerobic exercise possibly having the most favorable effect, according to a review of 19 previous studies on the topic.

Approximately 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s-related medical costs in the United States are estimated to exceed $1.1 trillion by 2050 unless effective methods to prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease are identified.

Exercise training is recommended as a cost-effective lifestyle therapeutic option to improve brain health in older adults, with improvements in cognitive function mediated by positive neurophysiological changes. read more »


Relevance of Social Networks for Adolescent Obesity

The idea that obesity is contagious and can be spread like a virus was a brilliant analogy that provided a convenient rubric for people to understand that obesity could be transmitted to other individuals. In this issue of JAMA Pediatrics, Datar and Nicosia present an innovative natural experiment to study whether adolescent and parental obesity spreads in social net- works. The ideal experiment to test whether multigenerational obesity is spread within a social network would be to randomize a group of non-obese parents with non-obese adolescent children to live in environments with a low or high proportion of families with obesity. This thought experiment would be difficulty to implement, but the natural experiment by Datar and Nicosia3 was a proxy for this format by studying 1519 military families who were assigned to relocate to counties with obesity rates that varied from 21% to 38%. Data on height and weight were collected via parental self-report, and Datar and Nicosia also measured height, weight, and body composition in a subset of 458 adolescents. They also collected objective and self-reported data on built environment, and had data on how long the families lived in the new community, and whether they lived on or off the military installation.

read more »


Researchers ‘dismantle’ mindfulness intervention to see how each component works

As health interventions based on mindfulness have grown in popularity, some of the field’s leading researchers have become concerned that the evidence base for such practices is not yet robust enough. A new study shows how a rigorous approach to studying mindfulness-based interventions can help ensure that claims are backed by science.

One problem is that mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) sometimes blend practices, which makes it difficult to measure how each of those practices affects participants. To address that issue, the researchers took a common intervention for mood disorders — mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) — and created a controlled study that isolated, or dismantled, its two main ingredients. Those include open monitoring (OM) — noticing and acknowledging negative feelings without judgment or an emotional secondary reaction to them; and focused attention (FA) — maintaining focus on or shifting it toward a neutral sensation, such as breathing, to disengage from negative emotions or distractions.

read more »


Updated NIH Policies & Procedures related to Human Subjects Research

NIH has broadened its definition of clinical trial, and it may impact your future applications (new, resubmission, or revision) and awards.

NIH’s definition of clinical trial now includes some research approaches not traditionally considered clinical trials. For example, many behavioral or biobehavioral studies that focus on underlying mechanisms of development may now be considered clinical trials. Also, conducting experiments that involve human subjects may be considered a clinical trial. If you are conducting studies involving human subjects, it is very important that you understand this definition and determine whether it applies to your research.

read more »


Don’t Nudge Me: The Limits of Behavioral Economics in Medicine

Whenever I talk to physicians about outcomes that are worse than you’d expect, they are quick to point out that noncompliance — when a patient does not follow a course of treatment — is a major problem.

Sometimes prescriptions aren’t filled. Other times they are, but patients don’t take the drugs as prescribed. All of this can lead to more than 100,000 deaths a year.

thorough review published in The New England Journal of Medicine about a decade ago estimated that up to two-thirds of medication-related hospital admissions in the United States were because of noncompliance, at a cost of about $100 billion a year. These included treatments for H.I.V., high blood pressure, mental health and childhood illnesses (it can be difficult to get children to take their medicine, too).

read more »