Reports and Publications

The reports and research resources listed are those where OBSSR led; provided financial and/or staff support to develop; or are key government reports related to behavioral and social sciences, including reports from workshops and reports or special issues commissioned by OBSSR.

Analysis of the Health Economics Portfolio Funded by the National Institutes of Health in Response to Published Guidance
February 2024 | Health economics, an interdisciplinary science supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), aligns with NIH’s mission to improve health. In 2015, NIH published guidance to clarify its funding priorities for health economics research. This analysis aimed to determine if there were changes in the number of health economics applications received and funded by NIH after the release of the guidance. Health economics applications submitted to NIH, both before and after the guidance, were identified using a machine learning approach with input from subject matter experts. Application and funding trends were examined by fiscal year, method of application (solicited vs. unsolicited), and activity code. This study found that submission and funding rates for health economics research applications were decreasing before the release of the guidance but increased after the guidance was published.

Behavioral Economics: Policy Impact and Future Directions
April 2023 | This report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) examines the evidence for behavioral economics and its application in six public policy domains: health, retirement benefits, climate change, social safety net benefits, climate change, education, and criminal justice. The report concludes that the principles of behavioral economics are indispensable for the design of policy and recommends integrating behavioral specialists into policy development within government units. In addition, the report calls for strengthening research methodology and identifies research priorities for building on the accomplishments of the field to date. The report was sponsored by OBSSR and other NIH Institutes and Centers.

The Future of Work: Behavioral and Social Science-Informed Considerations for a Hybrid Work Environment
November 2022 | This report, developed by a team of OBSSR staff, provides behavioral and social science-informed considerations for developing and maintaining virtual and hybrid work environments. The goal of this report was to explore key areas that impact workplace development and effectiveness and well-being in virtual and hybrid work environments, including: 1) ensuring diversity, equity, inclusion, access, and belonging, 2) recruiting and retaining an excellent workforce, 3) creating a psychologically healthy work environment, 4) increasing digital literacy, 5) cultivating leadership, 6) enhancing motivation and engagement, 7) minimizing disruptions and distractions, 8) fostering collaboration and innovation, and 9) building and maintaining effective teams. The report also recommends key considerations for future research directions to meet the needs of today’s modern and diverse workforce.

Ontologies in the Behavioral Sciences: Accelerating Research and the Spread of Knowledge
July 2022 | This report is an NIH and other agency sponsored, National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) consensus study. It is directly related to supporting OBSSR’s priority to building a cumulative knowledge base across the behavioral and social sciences. Ontology development and use will support more rigorous and reproducible, accelerate reuse of data, and allow effective communication between scientists and across scientific disciplines.

Integration of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH Council of Councils Working Group Report
May 2022 | This report to the NIH Director and Council of Councils is in response to the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill 2021 (H. Rpt. 116-450) from the House of Representatives that asked NIH to “complete an assessment providing recommendations on how to better integrate and realize the benefits to overall health from behavioral research at NIH.” A working group was chartered by the NIH Council of Councils to examine behavioral and social sciences integration at NIH. This report summarizes the working group’s recommendations.

US Opioid and Pain Crises: Gaps and Opportunities in Multidisciplinary Research
February 2022 | Through multiple commentaries, this supplement issue of AJPH is designed to bring as many of those perspectives as possible to the interpretation and understanding of research articles that focus on social and behavioral components to these two related crises. Commentaries in the AJPH supplement provide legal, government, research, advocate, lived experience, military implications, and racial disparity perspectives.

Best Practices for Systems Science Research
December 2021 | This document emerged out of a day-long workshop hosted at the National Institutes of Health on April 18th, 2016. The workshop gathered a number of experts in this area, including OBSSR’s Drs. William T. Riley and Michael Spittel, to discuss best practices in systems science research. Consensus statements of best practices were agreed upon and an outline of these statements was drafted by the group. This outline was then expanded upon and refined by the lead authors, with guidance from the editors, as well as feedback and agreement from the advisory board. The remainder of the paper is organized around the topics or statements that the workshop members agreed constituted a set of best practices for the field. This set of best practices is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather establishes a baseline set of evaluation criteria to assure that Systems Science produces insights that are useful, feasible, credible, and ethical.

Ending Sexual Harassment in Science: Designing and Administering a Survey That Can Lead to an Improved Organizational Climate
November 1, 2021 | The NIH developed and administered the 2019 NIH Workplace Climate and Harassment Survey. The goal was to use best practices in survey design methods to create an instrument for rigorous assessment of harassment incidence and organizational climate predictors of sexual harassment in scientific research environments. This Academic Medicine article summarizes the processes used to design and administer the NIH survey and provides brief descriptions of three products of the process developed to guide scientific institutions wishing to embark on a data-driven approach to assess and prevent harassment: a document detailing survey development and methods; a survey implementation guide; and the key findings obtained from the survey conducted at NIH, including recommendations for interventions targeting organizational climate at NIH and limitations of the survey. This article is co-authored by William T. Riley, Ph.D., Kathryn A. Morris, M.P.H., Charlene E. Le Fauve, Ph.D., and Hannah A. Valantine, M.D.

NIH-Wide Research Opportunities in the Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences: National Institutes of Health Council of Councils Working Group Report
May 21, 2021 | This report to the NIH Director and Council of Councils is a follow up to 2004’s Research Opportunities in the Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences. Although bBSSR support has strengthened in recent years, critical areas of need remain, as well as emerging and promising new areas that the NIH should consider accelerating. Continued improvements in the diversity of the bBSSR workforce are needed, and the NIH can ensure that its various workforce diversity efforts not only include bBSSR, but also draw upon lessons learned from the BSSR workforce. bBSSR has extensive scientific approach and infrastructure needs that the NIH should consider addressing to advance the field.

A Communicator’s Tip Sheet for COVID-19 Vaccination
December 2020 | This is “A Communicator’s Tip Sheet for COVID-19 Vaccination.” It highlights some recommended do’s and don’ts for COVID-19 vaccination communication.

COVID-19 Vaccination* Communication: Applying Behavioral and Social Science to Address Vaccine Hesitancy and Foster Vaccine Confidence
December 2020 | This report, which was developed in consultation with leading experts in social and behavioral sciences and public health, outlines evidence-informed communication strategies in support of national COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts across federal agencies and their state and local partners. The report builds on four foundational principles (coordinated and consistent messaging, building trust, consideration of health literacy, and prioritizing equity) to offer concrete recommendations for targeted and tailored communication. The recommendations are based on three intersecting considerations: What is being communicated, Who is the target of the message, and How the message is communicated.

NIH-Funded CBPR: Self-Reported Community Partner and Investigator Perspectives
April 2019 | This evaluation of NIH's CBPR portfolio recounts the progress of 489 projects funded between 2004 and 2013, including perspectives from PIs and community partners from those projects who were willing to participate in survey research.

The Selection of Comparators for Randomized Controlled Trials of Health-Related Behavioral Interventions: Recommendations of an NIH Expert Panel
February 2019 | This paper presents recommended process for arriving at different comparator choices by adopting the Pragmatic Model for Comparator Selection in Health-Related Behavioral Trials. Process is represented in a decisional flow chart accounting for the acceptability, feasibility, formidability, relevance, stringency, and uniformity of the choice. Purpose and phase of the trial are contextually considered to account for the primary objective of the trial, significant barriers to or limitations in implementation, and optimization of the comparator.

Contributions of Social and Behavioral Research in Addressing the Opioid Crisis (Full Summary)
March 2018 | Introduces a summary report that focuses on specifying key actionable social and behavioral science findings that can be brought to bear immediately to address the opioid crisis, and identifying critical short-term (as well as potential mid-term and longer-term) research priorities that have the potential to improve the opioid crisis response.

Graduate Training in the Social and Behavioral Sciences
September 2017 | Proceedings of a workshop supported by the National Science Foundation and the NIH on how to update graduate training in the social and behavioral sciences.

Self-Regulation of Appetite—It's Complicated
March 2017 | This special issue reviews evidence regarding known mechanisms affecting appetitive behavior and suggests targets for novel interventions to help control weight status. Multiple systems are considered: biologic, psychologic, neural, environmental, and policy mechanisms and influences. Effects of mechanisms and their interactions are discussed to identify pathways and targets to impact eating behavior and inform interventions.

Special Issue on eHealth and mHealth: Challenges and Future Directions for Assessment, Treatment, and Dissemination
December 2015 | This special issue is intended to promote a discussion of eHealth and mHealth and its connection with health psychology.

The Cultural Framework for Health: An Integrative Approach for Research and Program Design and Evaluation
November 2015 | Provides methods and tools for research project design that can illuminate project-salient cultural processes health-related behaviors and culturally-specific concepts of health and well-being. An accessible version of this document is being developed. For any immediate accessibility assistance requests please contact

Educational Attainment and Adult Health: Contextualizing Causality
February 2015 | Special Issue in Social Science & Medicine, sponsored in part by OBSSR, highlighting some of the leading questions explaining the connection between education and health.

Capturing Social and Behavioral Domains and Measures in Electronic Health Records: Phase 2
January 2015 | Phase 2 of this IOM report identified a parsimonious panel of social and behavioral measures for use in electronic health records (EHRs) that is comprehensive, interoperable, and efficient. These "psychosocial vital signs" include four measures that are already widely collected (race/ethnicity, tobacco use, alcohol use, and residential address) and eight additional measures (education, financial resource strain, stress, depression, physical activity, social isolation, intimate partner violence, and neighborhood median household income). The committee concluded that the health benefits of addressing these determinants outweigh the added burden to providers, patients, and health care systems in including these psychosocial vital signs in EHRs.

Review of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Opportunities Innovations in Population Health Metrics
July 2014 | Meeting summary of thought leaders who were invited to specify research opportunities in the space between the Health and BSSR.

Capturing Social and Behavioral Domains in Electronic Health Records: Phase 1
June 2014 | OBSSR, partnering with other federal and nonfederal entities, requested that the Institute of Medicine (IOM; now the National Academy of Medicine) identify domains and measures that capture the social determinants of health to inform the development of recommendations for Stage 3 meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs). This Phase I report identifies specific domains to be considered by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC), criteria for deciding which domains should be included, core social and behavioral domains to be included in all EHRs, and any domains that should be included for specific populations or settings defined by age, socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, disease, or other characteristics.

Education and Health: New Frontiers (Meeting Summary)
June 2014 | Meeting summary of leading researchers to provide their professional opinions on future directions in the research literature connecting educational attainment and health.

New Methods for Advancing Research on Tobacco Dependence Using Ecological Momentary Assessments
May 2014 | This special issue of Nicotine & Tobacco Research (NTR), sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research at the National Institutes of Health, is devoted to the novel topic of collecting and analyzing data from ecological momentary assessment (EMA) studies to collect real-time tobacco use and dependence data in real-time settings. EMA methods have particular utility for understanding tobacco use because they enable microanalyses of use and can shed light on how behavior unfolds over time.

Advancing Scientific Inquiry by Blurring Research Boundaries
October 2013 | Introduction to a Special Issue of the American Journal of Public Health sponsored by OBSSR. Highlights research integrating public health, behavioral and social science, and genetics.

The History of the Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Lecture Series: 1995–2013
September 2013 | This report provides a summary of the OBSSR lecture series (1995–2013), which highlighted a range of disciplines, approaches, and disease areas in the behavioral and social sciences.

Qualitative Assessment of the NIH Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Portfolio—Interviews with Institute Staff and Personnel from Selected Professional Societies
August 2013 | Describes a follow up to an evaluation of the NIH BSSR portfolio for FY 2007–2011 by conducting qualitative interviews with NIH ICs and experts from outside the NIH on perspectives on the current state and future trends in BSSR.

The Arts and Aging: Building the Science
February 2013 | This report summarizes the proceedings, observations, and recommendations from the 2012 workshop on "Research Gaps and Opportunities for Exploring the Relationship of the Arts to Health and Well-Being in Older Adults."

U.S. Health in International Perspective: Shorter Lives, Poorer Health
2013 | OBSSR, NIA, and the Institute of Medicine commissioned this report to better understand the differences between high-income countries, particularly regarding mortality and slowing life expectancy among those age 50 in the United States. The report compared 16 "peer" countries from the late 1990s to 2008. The United States' health outcomes were attributed to nine domains in which it fared worse than the peer countries: adverse birth outcomes, injuries and homicides, adolescent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, HIV and AIDS, drug-related mortality, obesity and diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disease, and disability.

Outcome Evaluation of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director's Pioneer Award (NDPA), FY 2004 - 2005
July 2011 | Describes a companion volume of case studies to an evaluation to assess whether the outcomes of the NIH Director's Pioneer Award program were consistent with its original goals and to evaluate the impact of the NDPA on NIH and its funding of high-risk research.

Best Practices for Mixed Methods Research in the Health Sciences
Mixed Methods Supplemental Material
November 2010 | Handbook on approach for the collection, analysis, and integration of both quantitative (e.g., RCT outcome) data and qualitative (e.g., observations, interviews) data to provide a more comprehensive understanding of a research problem than might be obtained through quantitative or qualitative research alone. A 2018 update with sample NIH-funded mixed methods projects and references is included.

Behavioral and Social Sciences in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education: A Workshop Summary
July 2010 | Report on a meeting sponsored by OBSSR on how to more actively include the behavioral and social sciences in STEM educational initiatives.

Behavioral and Social Sciences Training, Education, and Career Development in the Clinical & Translational Science Awards Program: A Workshop Summary
May 2010 | Report on workshop of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards/Behavioral and Social Sciences (CTSA/BSS) Liaison Program (LP), designed to promote the education and training of behavioral and social scientists within the CTSAs.

Strategic Plan for Basic Behavioral Research
July 2008 | This report to Congress builds on trans-agency gap and portfolio analyses and suggests opportunities for future NIH support.

Scientific Leadership Structure for Basic Behavioral Research
April 2008 | This report to Congress finds strong trans-agency support for basic behavioral research and suggests increased support from DPCPSI Offices to promote basic behavioral and social sciences across IC-specific missions.

Report of the Working Group of the NIH Advisory Committee to the Director on Research Opportunities in the Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences
December 2004 | This committee report provides sample emerging basic biopsychosocial topics that are likely to make important contributions to understanding and improving health outcomes.

NIH Plan for Social Work Research
May 2003 | This report, directed by Congress, is the NIH plan for social work research which identifies accomplishments and new research directions, enhancements in infrastructure and training, and opportunities for dissemination and community outreach.