October 15, 2020
NIH Behavioral and Social Science COVID-19 Research Funding. Halfway through this 2020 Fiscal Year (FY), we experienced a global pandemic, SARS-CoV-2, that has thus far resulted in over 34 million cases (over 7 million in the US) and over one million deaths (over 200,000 in the US), disproportionately affecting those already experiencing health disparities (e.g., under-resourced minorities, poor, vulnerable). All of us, even those not infected, have experienced life disruptions unprecedented in our lifetimes. NIH rapidly responded to the public health crisis and the research needs of the crisis. Development and evaluation of therapeutics and vaccines have occurred at a robust and rapid pace, combining and coordinating public and private sector resources through the ACTIV program. Complementing this is the RADx program to speed innovation in the development, commercialization, and implementation of technologies for COVID-19 testing.
Findings from Recently Published Research
In response to COVID-19, affected countries have imposed a range of public health strategies to manage outbreaks. In a recent study funded by NIGMS, researchers use modeling techniques to assess the long-term potential of success using these approaches. Typically, these strategies have fallen into two categories – “suppression” and “mitigation.” Broadly speaking, the goal of the suppression strategy is to drastically reduce COVID-19 transmission rates and stop endogenous transmission in the target population, while the goal of the mitigation strategy is to achieve herd immunity by allowing the virus to spread through the population while mitigating disease burden as to not overwhelm the healthcare system.
Smartphone applications based on ‘acceptance and commitment therapy’ are effective for smoking cessation
Digital interventions through smartphone applications are intended to improve treatment barriers for cessation of cigarette smoking, the leading cause of early death and disability worldwide. Despite the availability of nearly 500 English-language smartphone applications to date, only 5 randomized trials have tested the efficacy of some of these applications on abstinence rates. A study funded by NCI compared the efficacy of two smartphone applications- a more typical smoking cessation treatment model based on the United States Clinical Practice Guidelines (USCPG) versus an alternative treatment model based on acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).
Sleep has garnered attention over the years for its relationship with health outcomes. Research supported by the NHLBI, NIMH, and NCATS sought to study the natural history of insomnia symptoms in children that were followed into adolescence to establish population-based rates to better understand the course of insomnia, as well as risk factors. In youth, falling asleep and/or staying asleep are one of the most common parent-reported insomnia symptoms; with a prevalence in childhood and adolescence of 20-25%. Prior research has yielded varying estimates of persistence rates of insomnia symptoms in youth that range from 0% over a 12-year period to 52% over a 4-year period. Due to this high variability in results, the researchers examined individual risk factors that contribute to the persistence and incidence of insomnia symptoms in youth.
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