May 12, 2022
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made it abundantly clear that highly effective vaccines and therapeutics alone have been insufficient to control the pandemic. To best prevent the spread, health leaders at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) quickly recognized the urgent need to apply evidence from the behavioral and social sciences to increase vaccine acceptance and uptake, adoption of effective behavioral mitigation strategies such as face mask wearing and physical distancing, and to better understand the full range of short-and long-term health consequences for individuals, communities, and society. To this end, in 2020, leadership at the National Institute of Health formed the Social, Behavioral, and Economic (SBE) Executive Committee to “focus on research to improve our understanding of the efficacy and impacts of various mitigation efforts, assess the downstream health and healthcare access effects from the economic downturn, and evaluate digital and community interventions to ameliorate these health effects.”
The National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Nursing Research, and the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research are leading a consortium of 21 institutes and centers that have pooled funds and received $11 million from the NIH Office of the Director. The Committee issued a Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) and several Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs).
On April 27 and 28, the SBE Initiative hosted a two-day virtual conference to showcase initial findings and results, with a focus on understanding and addressing the impact on first responders, populations with health disparities, and those with medical and social vulnerabilities most impacted by the pandemic. The two days provided interesting and meaningful opportunities for researchers to hear from one another and engage across disciplines and topics.
Recordings of the event will be posted to OBSSR’s YouTube channel shortly.
For additional information, please see these three published commentaries: