The Science of Behavior Change (SOBC)
program seeks to promote basic research on the initiation, personalization and maintenance of behavior change. By integrating work across disciplines, this effort will lead to an improved understanding of the underlying principles of behavior change. The SOBC Program aims to implement a mechanisms-focused, experimental medicine approach to behavior change research and to develop the tools required to implement such an approach. The experimental medicine approach involves: identifying an intervention target, developing assays (measures) to permit verification of the target, engaging the target through experimentation or intervention, and testing the degree to which target engagement produces the desired behavior change.
Happiness Examined From the Molecular Level: New Study Findings Reveal a Link Between Well-Being, Health, and Our Genomes
Breaking Bad Habits: Summary of a Recent Meeting Hosted by the NIH Common Fund Science of Behavior Change Program
NEW! Science of Behavior Change Approved for Phase 2
The NIH Common Fund has approved a phase two of the Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) Program, which is chaired by Dr. Richard Hodes, Director of the National Institute on Aging (NIA), Dr. Richard Suzman, Director of the Division of Behavioral and Social Research at the NIA, and Dr. Patricia Grady, Director of the National Institute on Nursing Research.
Human behavior accounts for about 40 percent of the risk associated with preventable premature deaths in the United States (Schroeder, 2007, NEJM). Health-injuring behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and drug abuse, as well as inactivity, poor diet, and poor medication adherence, are known to contribute to many common diseases and adverse health conditions. Unfortunately, there are still too few effective approaches to adopting and maintaining healthful behaviors over time, and validated approaches have not been widely adopted.
The goal of the first phase of the SOBC Common Fund Program has been to enhance understanding of the basic mechanisms of behavior change across a board range of health-related behaviors, and in so doing, unite often disparate research fields and bridge the gulf between basic and clinical research. Research funded by SOBC and multiple workshops that engaged research communities have led to the identification of three broad classes of intervention targets that are conceptually distinct but highly relevant to understanding the mechanisms by which behavior is changed: self-regulation, stress reactivity and resilience, and interpersonal and social processes.
Pending availability of funds, phase two of the SOBC Program will capitalize on lessons learned from research funded in the first five years by developing measures and techniques that afford a more mechanistic, experimental medicine approach to behavior change. The program will also include an important new focus on adherence to medical regimens and other high priority health behaviors.
The phase two program is intended to:
- Explore behavioral intervention targets that play a putative role in behavior change, have clear potential to be measured, and have a plausible intervention strategy.
- Support activities to inform a mechanistic approach to adherence interventions research.
- Facilitate transition of SOBC advances to NIH Institutes and Centers and the behavior change research field.
The program expects to publish funding opportunity announcements in the NIH Guide to fund phase two projects beginning in FY2015. This program website will be updated to reflect the goals and milestones for phase two of the program. Please check back often!