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December 12, 2008
Retreat Refreshes Behavioral, Social Sciences

Dr. Christine Bachrach, acting director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, wanted just one thing out of the first-ever day-long retreat for NIH’s widely dispersed community of behavioral and social scientists, held Nov. 12 at Natcher Bldg.

December 12, 2008
New Hope for Treatment of Addiction

Drug addiction is notoriously tough to treat, but now research is showing a fresh way to tackle the problem. It’s called computer-based training for cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT4CBT)

OBSSR’s Mabry Wins with Systems Analysis Team

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January 28-29, 2009 Dissemination and Implementation Conference

February 9, 2009, ­ 10:00 – 11:00 AM
Stigma: Lessons & New Directions from a Decade of Research on Mental Illness

July 12-24, 2009
OBSSR/NIH Summer Training Institute on Randomized Clinical Trials Involving Behavioral Interventions

May 3-8, 2009
Institute on Systems Science and Health

May 22-25, 2009
Gene-Environment Interplay in Stress and Health at the Association for Psychological Science 21st Annual Convention, San Francisco, CA

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Home > Training and Education > Social Work Research

Social Work Research


In May 2003, the National Institutes of Health developed the first trans-institute plan for social work research. This document, dubbed the NIH Plan for Social Work Research, made a series of recommendations to further enhance this area of research in the extramural program. One of the proposed initiatives was for NIH to conduct a Summer Institute on Social Work Research. This initiative would focus in 2004 on qualitative and mixed research methods, in 2005 on behavioral and social intervention research, and in 2006 on the design and development of quantitative research—these methodologies represent frequently mentioned research infrastructure and training needs in the field. Specifically, the NIH plan proposed to:

Develop and implement an NIH Summer Institute on Social Work Research offering new researchers intensive exposure to issues and challenges in the field of social work research. The program of the Summer Institute would include lectures, seminars, and small group discussions in research design relative to social work as it relates to health, discussion sessions on methodological approaches and interventions, and consultation on the development of research interests and advice on preparing and submitting research grant applications to the NIH.

2008 National Institutes of Health Summer Institute

2008 NIH Summer Institute on Health Services Research

In 2008 OBSSR co-sponsored Summer Institute on Health Services Research.

The 2008 NIH Summer Institute addressed essential conceptual, methodological, and practical issues involved in planning and carrying out cross-systems health services research.

Individuals with health problems are often involved in multiple systems. Their complex needs can create significant challenges to obtaining and complying with effective health treatments and services, leading to less than optimal health outcomes. Cross-systems research offers a means to understand and develop strategies for overcoming these challenges.

The vulnerabilities faced by persons with multi-system involvement include lack of service coordination, gaps in services, and conflicting norms, priorities, definitions and goals among systems. Examples to consider include the disconnects between systems such as health care, aging services, mental health treatment and services, alcohol and other substance abuse treatment and services, schools, welfare and child welfare, social services, housing programs, and criminal justice systems, among others.
This institute had three interlocking didactic content themes:
  • Models for understanding healthcare services access and outcome
  • Conceptualizing cross-systems health services research
  • Examples of work in cross-systems health services research

Process included working groups to develop individual proposals and presentations on health services research methods relevant to cross-systems studies.

"Tools" included: Frameworks for services research and translating services research across systems—Conceptualizing research at different levels of analysis (e.g.: macro, organizational, provider, individual and family levels)—Use of multiple informants and multiple sources of data—Importance of strong explanatory frameworks for both intervention models and naturalistic or epidemiology based models.

The Institute was intended for investigators who had COMPLETED THEIR DOCTORATE and who planned to develop entry-level (e.g.: R03, R21, or R34) NIH grant applications for research in this area. Faculty included established investigators from social work and other fields. The goal was for every participant to develop a draft grant proposal by the end of the training that would eventually lead to a grant submission to the relevant NIH institute.

Major Topics

  • Overview of conceptualizing and designing cross-systems research
  • Developing and submitting an NIH R03, R21, or R34 proposal
  • Measurement–selecting measures, assessing validity and reliability; strengths and limitations of various measurement strategies
  • Research design– sampling; types of designs; effect sizes; power
  • Analysis– models and issues
  • Participation will include writing draft sections on measures, methods, and analysis for an R03, R21, or R34 application. Participants will present and receive feedback on their drafts during the institute.

Institute Format

Participation in this institute included the following:
  • Instructional sessions with Institute faculty
  • Discussion of cross-cutting issues
  • Discussing and receiving feedback on iterations of the proposal under development
  • Development and refinement of a draft research proposal

Social Work Funding Opportunities