Also in this Issue

APA Submits Comments on NIMH Draft Strategic Plan; Trucker Fatigue Receives Hearing on Capitol Hill; NICHD Will Change in Name Only; Addressing Research Needs for Teen Dating Violence

APA Submits Comments on NIMH Draft Strategic Plan

In November, the National Institute of Mental Health completed a draft of a new Strategic Plan that will serve as a guide to the Institute for advancing its priorities over the next 3-5 years. The Plan has four strategic objectives: promote scientific discovery; chart mental health trajectories; develop new and better interventions; and strengthen public health impact. In response to NIMH’s call for input, Science GRO submitted comments on behalf of APA that are an integration of the views of a wide range of individual members and APA governance groups. A common theme that emerged from member comments was the absence of behavioral research among the Plan’s stated objectives. In our review, we urged the Institute not to exclude basic behavioral research, “just as it does not exclude studies of normal brain function that are conducted solely at the neural level.” For further information, read the full text of the comments.

Trucker Fatigue Receives Hearing on Capitol Hill

On December 10, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued an interim final rule (IFR) on the number of hours truckers are allowed to drive, upholding an 11-hour limit within a 14-hour duty cycle. The ruling was the topic of a December 19 hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Research funding for driver fatigue is part of a broader advocacy agenda Science Government Relations staff are pursuing with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to enhance wellness programs for commercial drivers (see a letter to the OMB). SPIN readers will recall that driver safety was the focus of a recent briefing on Capitol Hill organized by the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences and sponsored by APA and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

NICHD Will Change in Name Only

As the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development prepares to celebrate its 45th anniversary, Congress has chosen to honor one of its original champions by renaming the institute the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Ms. Shriver was instrumental in proposing the original legislation establishing the NICHD, and President John F. Kennedy signed the bill into law in 1962. The bill renaming the institute (S.2484) was co-sponsored by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mike Enzi (R-WY), and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD, and was passed by both the Senate and House in mid-December. The legislation makes no other alterations to the institute’s authorized budget or mission, but is the first to rename any of the institutes after an individual. Speaking on behalf of the bill, Senator Hatch stated, “Our bill honors a truly great American who has played a unique role in advancing children’s health, and particularly in shaping how we treat individuals with intellectual disabilities. Few Americans have ever played such a profound role as Ms. Shriver has played in her life and it is entirely fitting that we rename NICHD on her behalf.”

Addressing Research Needs for Teen Dating Violence

In December, scientists from the Department of Health and Human Services (NICHD, NIMH, CDC and others) and the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice cosponsored a two-day workshop, “Teen Dating Violence: Developing a Research Agenda to Meet Practice Needs.” Conference organizers are seeking to bridge the gaps between basic and applied social and behavioral scientists and practitioners working with adolescent populations in schools or others affected by intimate partner violence. The diverse group of participants, which included psychologists from across the country and within the federal agencies, worked collaboratively to identify some of the gaps and areas in need of further study. Some of research needs identified by the participants included: additional longitudinal studies using a development approach; examining aggression and bullying in girls; defining and measuring psychological aggression; looking at aggression in the context of the relationship; using additional measures other than self reports of aggression; perception of power in relationships; studies of teen dating violence in the LGBT and other ethnic minority communities; and the impact of sexual coercion and abuse in teen dating relationships.