APA Language Used in Congressional Reports for FY2004

Senate Encourages Behavioral Research at NIH

Each year both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees issue reports that accompany their versions of the coming year's spending bills. The Public Policy Office works with those committees to suggest language, or topics for language, on behavioral research at various NIH institutes. Although the suggestions in the reports do not carry the force of law, they are closely studied by administrators at NIH and demonstrate the committees' interest in and support of various areas of research. For that reason, we read through the massive report as soon as we get it to see which of our suggestions made it into print.

Here is a sample of some APA-inspired language from Senate report 108-81, accompanying the bill to fund the US Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies for Fiscal Year 2004.

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute

Basic Behavioral Research: The NHLBI is commended for its support of basic research with animal models to better understand the effects of various diets, exercise, and stress on the heart and circulatory system, as well as work on gene-environment interactions. The NHLBI is encouraged to continue to work cooperatively with other institutes and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research on efforts to add to fundamental knowledge in these areas.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Behavioral Research: Diabetics who have co-occurring depressive symptoms have less success managing their illnesses. The Committee also notes that NIDDK´s recent clinical trial, the Diabetes Prevention Program, demonstrated that diet and exercise could be more successful than medication alone in preventing the development of diabetes in groups who faced a high risk of diabetes. The NIDDK is strongly encouraged to build upon its investment in behavioral research, particularly in areas that would add to the science base on the maintenance of positive behavior change.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Basic Behavioral and Treatment Research: The Committee applauds the NINDS for its broad support of both basic and clinical behavioral research and training in such areas as the neural bases of cognition and behavior, including sensation/perception, attention, learning and memory, language, and other higher cognitive processes. The Committee notes the importance of integrating the research across multiple levels, including molecular, genetic and behavioral. The Committee encourages the NINDS to continue its support of imaging technologies to study the neural bases of cognitive processes in real time, including studies of language, face recognition, and decision-making ability. The Committee appreciates that understanding the deleterious effects of neurological disorders on cognition and behavior will allow for the design of more effective treatment and rehabilitation strategies including behavioral interventions. The Committee encourages the NINDS to continue supporting research on the cognitive and behavioral deficits associated with epilepsy, autism, stroke, Parkinson´s disease, traumatic brain injury, migraine, and neurofibromatosis.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Behavioral Science: The Committee supports the NICHD´s efforts to determine the biological, behavioral, and social factors that affect child development, particularly the important role of family structure and fathers in child development. The Committee is particularly concerned about rising rates of childhood obesity and supports continued initiatives to promote healthy behaviors in children and adolescents and prevent health risk behaviors.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Behavioral Genetics of Alcoholism: Genes and the proteins they produce are key players in the biochemical and molecular processes that contribute to development of alcoholism. Identifying variations in them that predispose people to alcohol-use disorders will contribute essential information to design of prevention and treatment strategies. Because only half of the risk of alcoholism appears to be genetic, it is also critical to examine gene-environment interactions. The Committee recognizes the value of large longitudinal, multidisciplinary studies used to identify these risk factors and determine how they interact with each other to result in alcohol-use disorders. The Committee recommends that NIAAA continue its important twin and family genetic studies, broad epidemiological studies, and observational studies that might help elucidate the relationship between genetic and environmental factors particularly in cultural and ethnic minorities.

Behavioral Treatments: Behavioral, nonpharmacological therapies currently are the most widely used method of treating alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse. The Committee applauds NIAAA´s efforts to advance the effectiveness of such therapies by examining approaches to improving clinicians´ abilities to engage and retain adults and adolescents in treatment. The Committee recommends that NIAAA expand research to understand the mechanisms of action of successful behavioral therapies as well as behavioral therapies for patients with co-occurring substance abuse and psychiatric disorders. Further, the Committee recognizes the value of NIAAA´s substantial medications development program and research to evaluate the use of new medications in combination with behavioral therapies to sustain recovery.

National Institute on Drug Abuse

Stress: The Committee encourages NIDA to continue to explore the effects of stress and its relationship on the initiation of drug use and the role that stress plays in triggering relapse to drug use. Such research may lead to development of more effective prevention and treatment, particularly for those who suffer from mental disorders as well as substance abuse.

Homeless Populations and Drug Abuse: The Committee recognizes that homeless adults and youth have disproportionate rates of drug use disorders. The Committee encourages NIDA to accelerate more research on homeless populations, especially those that suffer from alcohol, drug abuse and/or mental disorders, and their ability to access services and treatment.

National Institute of Mental Health

Psychological Impacts of Terrorism: The Committee supports NIMH research related to the psychological impact of both acute and chronic exposure to threats of violence, including terrorism, bioterrorism, and war, with particular emphasis on vulnerable populations, such as trauma survivors, children and older adults. The Committee encourages NIMH to expand its research portfolio to include research related to factors that promote detection or prediction, prevention, and post-exposure recovery and resilience.

Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research

Education and Health: The Committee is interested in the trans-NIH request for applications, initiated by the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research [OBSSR], to better understand how education contributes to health. Better scientific understanding of the causal pathways between education and health could lead to new or improved prevention and therapeutic intervention strategies for important health problems. In some but not all studies of clinical treatments, those with lower levels of educational attainment demonstrated poorer outcomes. The Committee looks forward to hearing about new research directions in this important arena.

APA's Advocacy Efforts

APA's Public Policy Office and our coalition partners will continue to advocate for healthy funding increases for NIH. Both the House and Senate bills anticipate increases of less than 4%. APA is advocating a 10% increase for Fiscal Year 2004 to provide a softer landing as NIH returns to what former director Harold Varmus referred to as "steady state." After five exciting years of 15% increases, NIH has grown to a size of $27 billion and has a large amount of money tied up in continuing grants. Our goal is to ensure that NIH is still able to fund a healthy number of new grants and new trainees each year. Watch for the next issues of SPIN [now APA Science Policy News] for more information on research funding at NIH, NSF, the Department of Defense, Veterans Administration, and more.