Psychological Research Highlighted in Appropriations Reports

When the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up the legislation to fund the Departments of Health, Human Services and Education for Fiscal Year 2009, it also published a report containing explanatory language pertinent to the funding allocations.

When the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up the legislation to fund the Departments of Health, Human Services and Education for Fiscal Year 2009, it also published a report containing explanatory language pertinent to the funding allocations. The House report was not online at press time since the full Committee suspended its markup in June.

APA Science Government Relations staff members work with congressional staff to inform them about various programs of psychological research that could benefit from Appropriators’ comments or inquiries. It is a measure of congressional interest and attention when a program is mentioned in appropriations report language. That language does not carry the force of law, but rather functions as recommendations or suggestions. Even so, federal agency staff pay attention to what the people with the checkbook (Congress) say about federal programs in the appropriations reports.

Senate Appropriators spent quite a few words on behavioral and social science research programs in the National Institutes of Health. A sample of the APA-inspired report language appears below. Credit is really due, however, to U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), a longtime advocate for behavioral and social science research.

National Cancer Institute

Health Communications - The Committee encourages the NCI to continue its investment in the Health Information National Trends Survey [HINTS], and to consider expanding the survey to track how public information campaigns may influence attitudes about cancer screening and vaccines.

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Learning and School Readiness - The Committee supports the important contribution that the NICHD is making in establishing the basic scientific foundation of the development of reading, math and science skills for children.

National Eye Institute

Low Vision and Blind Rehabilitation - The Committee encourages the NEI to prioritize research aimed at developing and assessing new methods for the rehabilitation of visually impaired individuals, including children. The Committee also urges the NEI to collaborate with the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research at the NICHD on developing improved assistive technology and training research scientists in the field of rehabilitation.

National Institute on Aging

Cognitive Health - The Committee encourages the NIA to follow up on recent findings that cognitive health appears to be improving in the over-70 population. In particular, further studies to determine how education, exercise, medications, cardiovascular health and lifestyle affect cognitive functioning are encouraged.

National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Psychological Interventions - The Committee encourages continued research into behavioral and cognitive-behavioral studies validating, refining, and comparing approaches to the treatment of persons with autism and autism spectrum disorders and their families, as well as studies that analyze and define the critical features of effective interventions and the development of innovative methodologies and outcome measures.

National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Behavior Change Research - The Committee applauds the NIAAA’s efforts to encourage a trans-NIH approach to understanding mechanisms of behavior change across a broad range of heal-related behaviors.

National Institute on Drug Abuse

Prescription Drug Abuse - The Committee continues to commend the NIDA for its leadership in addressing the issue of prescription drug abuse, especially among the Nation’s youth.

National Institute of Mental Health

Behavioral Research - The Committee urges the NIMH to put a greater emphasis on behavioral research in accordance with the first objective of its preliminary strategic plan to “promote discovery in the brain and behavioral sciences.” In particular, the Committee urges a greater focus on the study of personality and social psychology, and basic animal behavior. In the area of HIV/AIDS, the Committee notes that behavioral research aimed at reducing the likelihood of HIV infection should include structural, environmental, and socio-economic variables to ensure that research based interventions can be evaluated as appropriate for racial and ethnic minority populations.

National Human Genome Research Institute

Gene-environment Interactions - The NHGRI is encouraged to invest in research on ways that gene expression is influenced by the physical and social environment. The Committee encourages the NHGRI, on its own and in partnership with other Institutes and Centers, to continue it emphasis on the development of real-time environmental monitoring technologies and the advancement of tools to measure psychosocial stress and its influence on gene expression.

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Behavioral Interventions - The Committee encourages NCCAM to continue exploring the combined effects of behavioral interventions and pharmacotherapies/biologics in the prevention and treatment of debilitating conditions across the lifespan, with research that elucidates and enhances the mind-body connections in health.

Communication Between Patients and Caregivers - The Committee applauds NCCAM for its work to develop better strategies for promoting communication between doctors and their patients who use CAM, especially adults over 50.

National Center on Minority Health & Health Disparities

Data Training - The Committee endorses the recommendations put forward in the National Academy of Sciences' 2005 report on NIH minority research training programs, and urges NCMHD to collaborate with all Institutes and Centers to develop a coordinated response and to produce an integrated NIH-wide trainee data tracking system. The Committee further urges the Center to engage trainees actively in the data tracking process to document trainee outcomes such as funding awards for trainees or fellows, including those programs that are targeted to underrepresented minorities.

Office of the Director

Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research [OBSSR]

Basic Research - The Committee urges the OBSSR to continue to build collaborations with Institutes and Centers in support of basic behavioral and social science research, including Roadmap proposals and workshops. As the OBSSR has no grant-making authority, the Committee continues to urge focused scientific leadership for basic behavioral and social science research in an Institute that does have such authority. The Committee is pleased, meanwhile, that the OBSSR continues to provide leadership in support of this effort by coordinating targeted efforts among institutes.