Human behavior accounts for approximately 40 percent of the risk associated with preventable premature deaths in the U.S. Researchers are beginning to make progress in understanding some of the basic mechanisms that account for less-than-optimal initiation and maintenance of behavior change. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) via its Common Fund supports a Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) program initiative that “seeks to promote basic research on the initiation, personalization and maintenance of behavior change” (see Update, February 10, 2014). By integrating work across disciplines, the agency believes that this effort will lead to an improved understanding of the underlying principles of behavior change. Phase I of the SOBC program identified three domains with promising behavior change targets, given strong evidence for their central role in health behaviors relevant to multiple clinical endpoints. The domains include: (1) self-regulation, (2) stress reactivity and stress resilience, and (3) interpersonal and social processes.
The NIH recently released four new SOBC Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA) with the goal to “implement a mechanisms-focused, experimental medicine approach to behavior change research and to develop the tools required to implement such an approach.” (more…)