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National Research Council (US) Committee on Future Directions for Behavioral and Social Sciences Research at the National Institutes of Health; Singer BH, Ryff CD, editors. New Horizons in Health: An Integrative Approach. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2001.

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New Horizons in Health: An Integrative Approach.

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In 1999, Norman Anderson, director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), asked the National Research Council (NRC) to form a committee that could develop a research plan to guide NIH in supporting areas of high priority in the behavioral and social sciences.

Suggestions for committee membership came from numerous sources, including the NRC Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences, OBSSR and the NIH institutes, and members of the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (CBASSE). This process, representing input from multiple sources, culminated in a committee whose membership consisted of 15 scientists (named at the beginning of this volume) with diverse backgrounds and perspectives in the biomedical and social behavioral fields as well as extensive experience reaching across the scientific disciplines. It is a notable strength of the committee that selection of its members was weighted on the side of those who have established track records in multidisciplinary research and are at the forefront of the biobehavioral interface in current science. It is therefore not surprising that a majority had previous exposure to multidisciplinary efforts such as the research networks of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. These networks have played pivotal roles in nurturing integrative science over the last 15 years by bringing together teams of investigators from diverse fields to work together on targeted agendas. This background to the committee membership is relevant because bringing the behavioral and social sciences more strongly and visibly into the full panorama of health research at the NIH is dependent on building bridges across the scientific disciplines.

The committee met four times between May 1999 and February 2000. After reviewing the charge from OBSSR and NRC procedures for preparing such a report, the committee planned a workshop to solicit information and advice from representatives of each of the NIH institutes and the NIH director's Council of Public Representatives (COPR) regarding topics the committee needed to consider in its deliberations. Second, the workshop was to be a forum for an exchange of views between members of the committee and representatives of the institutes concerning useful ways to respond to the committee's charge.

At the workshop, the committee listened to presentations by representatives of nearly all institutes of NIH. They spoke about ongoing programs in the behavioral and social sciences and provided their views of promising future directions. These presentations were lucid, informative, and especially helpful to the committee regarding the scope of extant social behavioral work as well as for identifying future venues for biobehavioral integration. After the workshop, the committee worked for several months to shape and develop its report.

In addition to the workshop presentations, valuable input to the committee was also provided by Melanie Dreher, dean of the School of Nursing at the University of Iowa, who was the liaison with the COPR. Authorized by Congress, the COPR is charged with consulting, advising, and making recommendations to the NIH on issues of development of programmatic priorities. The COPR also has the task of enhancing public participation in NIH activities, increasing public understanding of NIH and its programs, and bringing important matters of public interest forward for discussion in public settings. COPR input to the committee played an important role in shaping the research priorities put forward in this report. Benefiting the health of the public is central to the proposed integrative approach, and an entire chapter of this report is focused on positive health promotion, a key theme from the COPR.

This report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC's Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Nancy E. Adler, Department of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, Center for Health and Community, University of California, San Francisco; Bernard J. Carroll, Pacific Behavioral Research Foundation, Carmel, California; David S. Cordray, Institute for Public Policy Studies, Vanderbilt University; Karen Emmons, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts; Victor R. Fuchs, Department of Economics, Stanford University (emeritus); Beatrix Hamburg, Department of Psychiatry, Cornell University Medical College; E.A. Hammel, Department of Demography, University of California, Berkeley; James House, Institute of Social Research, University of Michigan; Stephen Manuck, Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh; Elissa L. Newport, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester; and Robert Sapolsky, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University.

Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Neil Smelser, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California, and David R. Challoner, Institute for Science and Health Policy, University of Florida. Appointed by the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education and the NRC's Report Review Committee, respectively, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

We would especially like to thank Barbara Boyle Torrey, executive director of the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, for sustained support, encouragement, and guidance throughout the preparation of this report. Help from NRC staff has also been valuable. We would like to thank representatives of the NIH institutes, who made presentations to the committee about their programs in social and behavioral science research. Finally, we would like to again thank Melanie Dreher of COPR for identifying health issues and concerns from the general public that need to be factored into future priorities about research and practice.

Burton H. Singer, Chair and Coeditor

Carol D. Ryff, Coeditor

Committee on Future Directions for Behavioral and Social Sciences Research at the National Institutes of Health

Copyright © 2001, National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK43794


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