National Institutes of Health Social and Behavioral Research in Response to the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been mitigated primarily using social and behavioral intervention strategies, and these strategies have social and economic impacts, as well as potential downstream health impacts that require further study. Digital and community-based interventions are being increasingly relied upon to address these health impacts and bridge the gap in health care access despite insufficient research of these interventions as a replacement for, not an adjunct to, in-person clinical care. As SARS-CoV-2 testing expands, research on encouraging uptake and appropriate interpretation of these test results is needed. All of these issues are disproportionately impacting underserved, vulnerable, and health disparities populations. This commentary describes the various initiatives of the National Institutes of Health to address these social, behavioral, economic, and health disparities impacts of the pandemic, the findings from which can improve our response to the current pandemic and prepare us better for future infectious disease outbreaks.

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