Identify important new directions for health-related behavioral and social science research by March 29, 2020

The NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) is seeking broad public input on important new directions for health-related behavioral and social sciences research (BSSR).

Specifically, OBSSR requests your input on research directions that will support the achievement of the scientific priorities in the OBSSR Strategic Plan 2022-2026 (see current strategic plan) and that will advance or transform the broader health impact of BSSR. OBSSR is interested in focusing on research directions that are trans-disease and cross-cutting in nature and address critical gaps in the field.

The role of OBSSR is to coordinate and promote BSSR research across the NIH and assist NIH Institutes and Centers in developing research and training resources to advance the field. OBSSR supports a broad range of BSSR disease, condition, population, and setting specific priorities across the NIH covering the spectrum from basic to implementation science research.

OBSSR would like input on the most important or cutting-edge, trans-disease research directions that would accelerate progress in these three strategic priority areas:

1. Synergy in Basic and Applied BSSR

OBSSR is committed to advancing cross-cutting approaches that stimulate health-related research on the fundamental processes that influence behavior and social systems. This includes facilitating the translation of basic BSSR findings into pathways to improve individual and population health and using intervention or population-based research findings to inform meaningful new fundamental research questions. Ideas could include emerging basic BSSR areas that are promising for application to human health; basic BSSR findings that are ready for translation to promote health behavior change; or study of novel processes or mechanisms that influence behavior and social systems that would enhance the impact, reach, or durability of behavioral interventions.

2. BSSR Resources, Methods, and Measures

The future of an efficient and integrated approach to BSSR requires the development and application of innovative research resources, measures, and methods.

Ideas could include new research resources, tools or infrastructure that are needed to accelerate BSSR; promising new methods and measures that should be used more widely in BSSR; or research domains or constructs that require improved measurement to advance BSSR.

3. Adoption of Effective BSSR in Practice

There is often there is a significant time lapse between the publication of research findings that demonstrate the efficacy of a prevention or healthcare strategy and when these approaches are adopted in practice and delivered to individuals, families, communities, and organizations. Research is needed to facilitate more rapid, effective, and widespread uptake and sustained implementation of BSSR findings to improve healthcare and public health.

Ideas could include methods to develop and test interventions that are designed with eventual dissemination and implementation factors in mind; research that is needed to accelerate the implementation of effective interventions; or approaches to encourage more rigorous evaluation of interventions, programs, or policies that are already being implemented.

To ensure consideration, responses must be submitted by midnight (EST) March 29, 2020 through OBSSR’s crowdsourcing IdeaScale website. Once your IdeaScale account is created and you are logged in, you can submit an idea, browse and respond to comments that have already been submitted, and vote for your favorite ideas.

Please forward this information to your colleagues or other contacts who may be able to provide feedback and inform OBSSR’s three strategic priorities and important new directions. If you have an inquiry, please contact Farheen Akbar at or 301-496-9165.