September 15, 2020
Expanding the Reach and Impact of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research: OBSSR 2005-2008. As we celebrate 25 years of OBSSR, we have asked the former Directors to reflect on their time at OBSSR. This guest blog was authored by OBSSR’s third Director, David Abrams, Ph.D.
Under my leadership, we developed a strategic prospectus that outlined the priority areas for the office. The process for developing that prospectus was truly a collaborative effort puling in a broad range of stakeholders, and the prospectus reflected our vision for the behavioral and social sciences at the time. We worked to develop partnerships both within and outside of the NIH to enhance the mission of the behavioral and social sciences within the NIH community. In addition to highlighting the need for “next generation” basic science and problem-focused research for maximum population impact, we worked to elevate systems science (studying the world as a complex system of multi-level influences (from cells to societies) interacting with one another over time and with short term and long term vicious and virtuous feedback loops) and emphasize transdisciplinary team science to understand better the causes of chronic diseases that require expertise in areas such as biomedical, psychosocial, cultural, economic and environmental sciences among others.
Findings from Recently Published Research
Do historically discriminatory policies influence current health outcomes? A study funded by the NIH’s Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) program and the NIEHS hopes to answer this question. Policies geared toward racially segregating neighborhoods in the US were widespread, pervasive, and well-documented following the Great Depression. Redlining maps were used for decades by banks and other lenders in order to determine loan risk. These maps shaded neighborhoods in one of four colors, and were based, in part, on the race and socioeconomic status of each neighborhood's residents.
Despite HPV vaccine efficacy, parental hesitancy to begin and complete vaccine series still exists in the U.S.
Human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancer burden is increasing in the US, despite the effectiveness of the HPV vaccine for the prevention of HPV infections and associated cancers. According to a 2019 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, nearly half of the adolescents who are eligible for the HPV vaccine are not up to date on vaccination. A study funded by the NCI aimed to estimate the rate of HPV vaccine usage among adolescents in the United States, broken down by state and explored reasons why there may be a failure to initiate or complete the vaccine series.
In a recently published study funded the NICHD, NSF, and others investigated how adverse health shocks to one child could spill-over to their siblings. Brothers and sisters share a unique bond, often growing-up in the same household, with the same parents, similar genetics, and experiencing life events together. Siblings can have important influences on each other's lives, teaching/learning from each other, and modeling behaviors. However, they also share limited parental resources such as time, attention, and money. To date there is limited evidence regarding the causal role of siblings on the outcomes for other siblings since it is difficult to identify the effect of one sibling on another.
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