Among the many accomplishments of psychological science is a broad and growing base of research on health and behavior. People's lives are improved and the quality of health care is better thanks to the contributions of basic behavioral science research. Our commitment to supporting the science of health is an important component of APA's new Center for Psychology and Health (see "From the CEO," January Monitor). A small sampling of activities over the past year illustrates how we focus our efforts in this area:
- In partnership with other public health organizations, APA commented on the premarket review of new tobacco products. The Science Government Relations Office continues to make the case that psychological science be used to inform the regulatory actions of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products.
- APA staff plays an active leadership role in the Friends of the National Institute on Drug Abuse coalition, including the development in 2012 of a congressional briefing on addiction treatment and another on HIV/AIDS and substance abuse.
- We prepared comments that were submitted to the National Advisory Committee on Alzheimer's Research, Care and Services, calling for research that links biomarkers with cognitive and behavioral markers.
- APA participates in the Coalition for Health Funding, the oldest and largest group advocating for investments in the federal health-related agencies. The coalition organized a discussion with 50 congressional offices about the consequences to health and research programs as a result of sequestration.
- Science Government Relations staff represents APA in the Friends of VA Medical Care and Health Research coalition. The VA intramural research program funds psychologists and other scientists to conduct research on the health and well-being of our nation's veterans, and APA has long been an advocate for this work.
In addition to these examples, APA is an active and respected advocate for health-related research on aging, children, stress, obesity, depression, diverse populations and other areas for which the insights of behavioral science are important.
Looking ahead, one of the greatest opportunities will be in translational research — understanding how to bring the discoveries of basic science into health-care delivery. Psychology is especially well positioned to do this, and APA's new Center for Psychology and Health will help us to deliver on the promise.
APA's Center for Workforce Studies (CWS) will also play an integral role in the Center for Psychology and Health. CWS collects, analyzes and disseminates information about the workforce of psychology. An important part of this mission is to assess needs and demands for health-related psychological services. This analysis will be crucial for making psychology prepared for and responsive to the nation's health-care needs.
The APA Center for Psychology and Health is an exciting and important development. By bringing together our own expertise in science, practice, education and public interest, APA has formed a strong partnership to expand psychology's role in advancing health.