EGRP News Flash - August 31, 2010

Request for Applications: Research on the Effects of the Social Environment on Health

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet) is soliciting Research Project Grant (R01) applications from institutions/organizations that propose to investigate structural, behavioral, sociocultural, environmental, cognitive, emotional, and/or biological mechanisms through which the social environment affects health outcomes.

The social environment has long been recognized as a major influence on the health of individuals and populations. Recent methodological developments (e.g., multi-level modeling, geographic information systems, network analysis, and others) have spurred a considerable body of work on the effects of social context on individual health behavior and outcomes. The effects of social context have been found at multiple levels, ranging from interpersonal relationships, families, organizations, social networks, neighborhoods, and macro environments. However, research in this field has been hindered by several methodological constraints.

Thus, although much is known about the broad effects of social contexts on individual behavioral and health outcomes, there is a need for a more interdisciplinary and integrative approach to the conceptualization, operationalization, and analysis of social context, greater emphasis on linking macro-level aspects to intermediate pathways of the social environment that affect health, and use of measures, methods, and analytic techniques that can more specifically identify the features of the social environment that are important for health.

Examples of research questions that fall within the scope of this Request for Applications (RFA) include the following:

  • How do social environments influence health across the lifecourse?
  • How do social structures (e.g., public policies, neighborhood built environment, etc.) improve or protect health?
  • What intermediate structural characteristics of macro-level social environments serve as conduits to effect health outcomes?
  • To what extent do the characteristics of the social environment interact with biological/physiological pathways in women and men to influence health outcomes or health-related behaviors?

The following areas of research will NOT be considered responsive to this RFA:

  • Formative or qualitative research only,
  • Primary focus of prospective or descriptive epidemiology (e.g., investigations of the health risks of social environments without addressing mechanisms or methods),
  • Interventional studies (e.g., Phase III clinical or community trials) involving the social environment and health,
  • Translation II research (effectiveness trials or research on the dissemination of proven intervention strategies),
  • Primary focus on research resource or infrastructure development, and
  • Analyses of cross-sectional data sets that do not propose to distinguish causal effects of environment on health from selectivity due to homophily or migration.

The NIH will commit approximately $5 million to this initiative in 2011, allowing the support of 8-9 new R01 applications, for a total of approximately $24 million over the next 5 years. The opening date is December 6, 2010 and prospective applicants are asked to submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) on this date. The application due date is January 6, 2011.

Contact: Damali Martin, Ph.D., M.P.H., Program Director, Host Susceptibility Factors Branch.

  • Access the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts for details: RFA-DA-11-003External Web Site Policy (R01)

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