Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

NIH: Notice of Interest in Long-term Maintenance of Behavior Change Research

Posted: 11/17/2019 (Funding)

NIH’s mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and to apply that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability. To achieve this mission, NIH substantially invests in research that encourages people to engage in behaviors that prevent illness or optimize their overall wellbeing while living with a chronic condition.

The purpose of this notice is to encourage research into maintenance of health behavior change. Many FOAs state the importance of the maintenance of behavior change, and request research projects that aim to promote long-term behavior change. Nevertheless, much more research is needed on how best to promote the maintenance of behavior change, particularly given mounting evidence that the mechanisms underlying the initiation of behavior change are not synonymous with those underlying the maintenance of behavior change.

Testing for behavior change maintenance often requires longer-term follow-up than what is achievable within a single NIH R01 grant timeframe. The NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices (ICOs) listed on this notice are expressly interested in competitive renewal (type 2) applications that propose continued research with participants from a previously-funded behavioral intervention to see if and how behaviors were maintained. Ideas for unique approaches using other types of NIH research mechanisms are welcome. Regardless of NIH funding mechanism, applicants are encouraged to explore, for example,

  • What types of behaviors were maintained,
  • Why the behavior(s) were or were not maintained,
  • What intermediate behavior-related changes emerged,
  • Impact on health outcomes, or at least intermediate outcomes or lab values,
  • Underlying individual, social, community, or environmental processes influencing behavior maintenance or discontinuation,
  • The effectiveness/value of boosters, or
  • Illuminate populations or subgroups of participants who were able to maintain the behavior change.

The bulleted items above are exemplars and do not constitute an exhaustive list of ICO-specific interests. Analysis of data on longer-term health-related behavior change can help build a more cumulative and integrated knowledge base on behavioral and social sciences in public health and work toward reducing health disparities

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