Also in this Issue

Psychologists Testify During Congressional Hearing on Suicide and Older Adults; Psychologist William Haley Briefs Congress on Family Caregiving; NIMH Forming Workgroup on Basic Science; APA Member Steve Zarit Comments on NIMH Proposals; APA Addresses the National Children's Study Advisory Committee; Eleventh Science Advocacy Training Workshop Focuses on Military Psychology; APA Science Co-Sponsors Congressional Briefing with Sen. John McCain; APA Members Help Shed Light in NASA's Darkest Hour

Psychologists Testify During Congressional Hearing on Suicide and Older Adults

On July 28, Senator John Breaux (D-LA) chaired a hearing entitled, "Senior Depression: Life-Saving Mental Health Treatments for Older Americans" before the Senate Special Committee on Aging. Senators Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) and Harry Reid (D-NV) were also in attendance at this committee's first hearing since 1996 focusing on mental health and aging issues. APA briefing materials on mental health and aging issues were given to congressional offices and members of the public.

The expert panel included two psychologists and APA members, Donna Cohen, Ph.D., Department of Aging and Mental Health, University of South Florida, and Jane Pearson, Ph.D., Associate Director for Preventive Interventions at National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Dr. Cohen presented compelling testimony related to elder homicide and suicide, while Dr. Pearson highlighted current NIMH funded research on depression and suicide among older Americans.

Read Dr. Cohen's congressional testimony

Psychologist William Haley Briefs Congress on Family Caregiving

In July, APA co-sponsored a congressional briefing on lifespan respite care, as part of a coalition effort, which featured APA member William Haley, Ph.D., University of South Florida. Dr. Haley presented psychological research findings on caregiving's effects on stress, health, and emotional well-being, and the benefits of respite services, as well as individual and family counseling. In a follow-up visit with staff of Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-FL), Dr. Haley urged House passage of the Lifespan Respite Care Act, S.538/H.R. 1083, introduced by Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and John Warner (R-VA), and Representatives James Langevin (D-RI) and James Greenwood (R-PA).

NIMH Forming Workgroup on Basic Science

The National Advisory Mental Health Council (NAMHC) met on September 12 and discussed several issues of importance to the behavioral sciences. Most notably, NIMH Director Tom Insel, MD, indicated that the institute would be reviewing its basic science portfolio to ensure that research that has the most promise for combating public health burdens is funded. This has raised concern among the basic science community that areas of research, particularly in basic behavioral science, will be curtailed. The NAMHC requested that a workgroup be organized to review the basic science portfolio, including molecular, cognitive and behavioral science, to provide scientific guidance to NIMH as it sets priorities among basic research. APA has recommended a slate of psychologists to serve as experts on this workgroup.

APA CEO Norman Anderson met with Insel last week to discuss the future of basic science research at NIMH and how a proposed Council workgroup will contribute to that effort. Insel confirmed that NIMH is looking at ways to refocus its portfolio, but it would be looking to the workgroup to prioritize areas of basic research. More information about the workgroup is expected in the next few weeks, and we will continue to monitor its progress.

APA Member Steve Zarit Comments on NIMH Proposals

At its September 12 meeting, the NAMHC also discussed a report from the Council's Aging Research Workgroup that was formed earlier this year to review the mental health and aging portfolio at NIMH. The workgroup recommended several strategies to increase coordination and support for research and training in mental health and aging. APA member and aging expert, Steve Zarit, PhD, presented comments to the NAMHC on behalf of APA. Zarit applauded the final report of the Aging Research Workgroup and recommended that NIMH consider reinstating the Aging Branch and increasing funding for aging research and training. APA Public Policy and Aging staff will continue to monitor the status of the workgroup's recommendations.

APA Addresses the National Children's Study Advisory Committee

Merry Bullock, PhD, APA's Associate Executive Director for the Science Directorate, addressed the National Children's Study Advisory Committee (NCSAC) on Monday, September 15. APA was invited to provide comments from the behavioral science community to the twenty-member advisory committee as it continues the planning phase of the study. The primary planning agencies include the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

After a review of the current hypotheses that have been submitted to the NCSAC by the 22 working groups of the study, APA offered several broad comments on key issues that would affect the validity and usefulness of the study to future behavioral research. As the final decisions regarding study design and specific final hypotheses have not been made, APA also requested that organizations be allowed to comment on the final design and hypotheses before implementation.

Bullock emphasized that the NCS should serve as a rich resource for future generations of scientists, which requires a nationally representative sample and incorporation of age appropriate measures of development, including cognitive, language, social and emotional development. Other areas that require further input and hypotheses included mental health outcomes, health disparities, adolescent behaviors and substance abuse. In addition, Bullock recommended that a focus on positive development and health outcomes would provide much needed information about subclinical outcomes that may have a broad impact on child health and development.

The study is scheduled to begin enrollment in 2005, though it is unclear if Congress will provide adequate resources to the primary agencies involved in planning the study.

More information on the study, the advisory committee, and the working groups can be found on the National Children's Study website.

Eleventh Science Advocacy Training Workshop Focuses on Military Psychology

PPO convened its 11th annual Science Advocacy Training Workshop at the end of September, bringing in fourteen distinguished researchers to focus on "Psychological Science and the Military." Following intensive training in federal legislative process and effective communication with Congress and the media, the psychologists talked with Susan Chipman, PhD, from the Office of Naval Research. The group developed a briefing sheet on behavioral science funding within the Department of Defense (highlighting substantial cuts to this program in Fiscal Year 2004), which they used while advocating for increased support in Fiscal Year 2005 during meetings with their Congressional delegations on Capitol Hill.

Scientists with expertise including human factors, psychobiology, and industrial/organizational psychology were: James Callan (Pacific Science & Engineering, Inc.), Janis Cannon-Bowers (University of Central Florida), Nancy Cooke (Arizona State University), William Howell (Arizona State and Rice Universities), Dennis Kowal (IDA), Gerald Krueger (Wexford Group International), Sandra Marshall (San Diego State University), Kevin Murphy (The Pennsylvania State University), Michael Paley (Aptima, Inc.), Elaine Pulakos (Personnel Decisions Research Institutes, Inc.), Karlene Roberts (University of California, Berkeley), William Strickland (Human Resources Research Organization), Jennifer Vendemia (University of South Carolina), and Stephen Zaccaro (George Mason University).

APA Science Co-Sponsors Congressional Briefing with Sen. John McCain

In conjunction with the PPO Science Advocacy Training Workshop, APA co-sponsored a congressional briefing on September 29th with the office of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) titled "Psychological Science in Support of the Soldier." In his roles as Chairman of the Senate's Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Member of the Armed Services Committee, and former Naval officer and POW, Sen. McCain is a strong supporter of defense research on Capitol Hill. His staff provided the Commerce Committee hearing room for the briefing, which was designed to educate congressional defense staffers on the vital contributions of psychological research to our military and national defense. Three APA members, Gerald Krueger (Wexford Group International), Robert Roland (Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University), and Howard Weiss (Purdue University's Military Family Research Institute) presented research on human factors issues in designing infantry suits, operational research on Prisoners of War, and military family issues related to service member recruitment and retention. William Howell (Arizona State and Rice Universities, former Chief Scientist for Human Resources for the U.S. Air Force, and former APA Executive Director for Science) moderated the panel and offered a vision for future human-centered research within the military.

APA Members Help Shed Light in NASA's Darkest Hour

More photos from the briefing are availableAfter the release of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board’s (CAIB) final report in August, congressional committees with NASA oversight authority decided to hold hearings beginning the first week of September to help clarify the agency's role in responding to the CAIB recommendations. But what Congress may not have appreciated until recently, was the role psychological scientists played as consultants in shaping that final report. At least two APA Fellows, David Woods and Karlene Roberts were called before the CAIB to deliberate/review the boards findings. As the House Committee on Science and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation geared up for hearings, APA Science Policy staff worked to make sure relevant congressional staff knew about Woods and Roberts work. As a result, both were contacted by Committee staff and David Woods has been invited to testify at a Senate hearing on the “Future of NASA” where he will be asked to discuss “…cultural changes that NASA should consider and implement in order to accommodate visionary advancements in its mission, goals and strategies” on October 29.

The Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics of the House Committee on Science has already passed a bill (H.R. 2450) to "establish an independent, Presidentially-appointed investigative Commission in the event of incidents in the nation's human space flight program that result in loss of crew, passengers, or spacecraft, including the International Space Station". One of our goals would be to ensure the creation of a more proactive advisory body including experts who understand industrial/organizational behavior and resilience engineering to help avoid catastrophic accidents in the future.

More information about the House CAIB hearings is available from the Committee on Science and Technology.