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).

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NIH SOBC Program FOAs: Announcement

The NIH SOBC Common Fund Program held two Technical Assistance Webinars in October for the Program’s current Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) in one of the two Science Of Behavior Change (SOBC) Technical Assistance Webinars for the Program’s current Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs). A list of all the FAQs generated from both webinars, a link to a recording of the October 26, 2017 webinar, and a transcript will be posted on the SOBC Common Fund website soon. A link to the webinar recording, transcript, and FAQs is also provided below. Note that the audio begins at about 3.5 minutes.

As a reminder, please check the “Coming Soon Measures” list on the SOBC Measures Repository page. We expect in total more than 100 measures to be available prior to the receipt date for the FOAs, including additional measures in the interpersonal and social processes and stress reactivity and stress resilience domains.

Webinar Recording:

Webinar Recording and Transcript Access:



EHPS Interview with Dr. Jennifer Sumner

Dr. Jennifer Sumner, Assistant Professor of Behavioral Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center and member of the Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) Research Network Resource and Coordinating Center, recently returned from a roundtable event at the 31st meeting of the European Health Psychology Society (EHPS). The conference was held in beautiful Padova (Padua), Italy from August 29th to September 2nd. The roundtable was titled “Behaviour change: Investigating mechanisms of action” and was co-chaired by Dr. Susan Michie, Professor of Health Psychology and Director of the Centre for Behaviour Change (CBC) at University College London, and Dr. Rachel Carey, an Associate Consultant of the CBC.  read more »

Be ‘Mindful’ of the Hype

“Mindfulness” is touted as a cure-all for many modern ills, from stress and pain to depression.

But little to no scientific evidence backs up most of the health claims surrounding the practice, said Willoughby Britton, director of Brown University’s clinical and affective neuroscience laboratory.

There’s not even an agreed-upon definition of mindfulness that researchers can use to test the concept’s effectiveness, Britton said.

“Meditation researchers are concerned the exaggerated claims of mindfulness benefits will mislead vulnerable people and keep them from receiving evidence-based treatment,” Britton said.

In a new paper, Britton and 14 other experts say it’s time to replace the hype with serious scientific rigor.

Mindfulness has become a billion-dollar industry. Countless practitioners and more than 1,500 smartphone apps promise to help people become calm and focused despite the turbulence surrounding them, Britton said.

The idea is based on an obscure Buddhist concept dating back 2,600 years, according to the American Psychological Association. It generally refers to a state of moment-to-moment awareness of existence, without any judgment placed on that awareness — essentially, living in the moment.

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UIC Researchers Create Voice-Enabled Coach to Manage Type 2 Diabetes

More than 30 million Americans had diabetes in 2015, according to the American Diabetes Association. That’s just over 9 percent of the U.S. population.

The vast majority of those with the disease have Type 2 diabetes, which most often occurs in middle-aged adults and older adults, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

While there is no cure for the disease, it can be managed through medication and healthy behaviors such as exercising, eating nutritious meals and quitting smoking.

“A lot of these lifestyle changes can be very stressful,” said Olusola Ajilore, associate professor of psychiatry in the University Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. “I teach a class on diabetes and emotions for patients with Type 2 diabetes and some of the challenges they bring up are having to change their diet or increasing their physical activity or exercise.” read more »

Postdoctoral Fellowship | Division of Women’s Health and Department of Psychiatry | Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School

Position: The Holsen Lab is seeking a full-time Postdoctoral Fellow to contribute to our work in clinical neuroscience related to reward processing, hormones, and appetite phenotypes in depression (PI: Dr. Laura Holsen). The focus of our lab is on understanding factors that drive appetite, mood-related eating behaviors, and weight change, with a broad goal of ameliorating negative health outcomes and chronic diseases associated with disordered eating. Current projects cover stress-induced eating in major depressive disorder, postmenopausal neurocognitive decline in women with obesity, and neurohormonal predictors of response to weight loss therapies including bariatric surgery, neuromodulation techniques, and glycemic load diets. In our work, we explore these themes using multimodal neuroimaging in combination with neuroendocrine measurements and behavioral assessments. We work in close collaboration with colleagues in psychiatry, nutrition, endocrinology, and radiology/functional neuroimaging.

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New SOBC Funding Opportunities

The NIH is now accepting revision applications to R01, U01, and R34 clinical trials as well as new R21 awards to accelerate the adaptation, validation, and translation of SOBC assays. Eligible assays can be found on the SOBC Measures Repository page.
Applications are due December 5, 2017.

For more information, please visit our Funding Opportunities page.

Two informational webinars will be held for potential applicants:

  • Thursday, October 26, 2017 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM, EST (Register)
  • Monday, October 30, 2017 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM, EST (Register)

Each webinar will cover the same information and address all four funding opportunities.