PAA Urges Comments on NIH OBSSR Strategic Plan–Due July 8

Dear PAA Member:

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) is in the process of updating its strategic plan and is requesting public comments.

The deadline, which was announced this week, is JULY 8 PAA will send comments on behalf of the association and will post the comments on the PAA home page as soon as possible. However, given the plan’s significance, individual PAA members should respond, too.

The plan, Healthier Lives Through Behavioral and Social Sciences Research: A Strategic Plan for the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, proposes three major scientific priorities to guide OBSSR over the next five years.

PAA members are encouraged to comment on two of these three areas:

Priority #1–Improve the synergy of basic and applied behavioral and social sciences research.

Priority #2–Enhance the methods, measures, and data infrastructure approaches that encourage a more cumulative and integrated approach to behavioral and social science approach.

With respect to both of these priorities, PAA members are encouraged to consider addressing two important sections:
  • Under Priority #1, PAA members are encouraged to thank OBSSR for making explicit a focus on health at the population level in the plan, reinforcing that healthy development is central to this section. PAA members may want to suggest strengthening the plan by addressing “environmental” influences on health, including social, cultural, economic, policy, physical environment.
  • Under Priority #2, encourage OBBSR to clarify in its discussion the office’s ongoing commitment to large-scale longitudinal surveys. While the section states OBSSR will “facilitate data sharing, linkage, and integration across existing datasets,” the plan does not explicitly affirm the office’s commitment to future investments in longitudinal surveys. In the past, OBSSR has co-funded longitudinal surveys supported by other NIH Institutes and Centers, and its future support is imperative.  NIH-supported longitudinal surveys are needed to continue delivering data that can address determinants of health over the life course.

Click to view the draft plan.

PAA members are strongly encouraged to respond to this opportunity to help shape the future of behavioral and social sciences research at NIH.
Best Wishes,
Judith A. Selzter
PAA President

Send comments to Dr. William Riley, Director, NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research at