DRUG ABUSE PREVENTION AND COMMUNICATIONS RESEARCH

Release Date:  February 20, 1998

RFA:  DA-98-006

P.T.

National Institute on Drug Abuse

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  April 7, 1998
Application Receipt Date:  May 7, 1998

PURPOSE

This Request for Applications (RFA) encourages research to explore the role of
mass media and communications in drug abuse prevention.  It would serve to inform
the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign sponsored by the Office of National
Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).  ONDCP has initiated a major national media campaign
as part of its long-term strategy to reduce drug use in the United States.  The
media campaign seeks to reduce drug use by changing attitudes about the dangers
and acceptability of drug use.

NATIONAL DRUG CONTROL STRATEGY

The Federal government is committed to reducing drug use and availability.  To
put this commitment into action, ONDCP has developed the 1997 National Drug
Control Strategy.  A copy of The National Drug Control Strategy for 1997 may be
requested from the ONDCP Clearinghouse at 1-800-666-3332; FAX 301-251-5212; or
Email: askncjrs@aspensys.com.

HEALTHY PEOPLE 2000

The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health promotion
and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy People 2000," a PHS-led national
activity for setting priority areas.  This RFA, Drug Abuse Prevention and
Communications Research, is related to the priority areas of alcohol and other
drugs.  Potential applicants may obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2000" (Full
Report:  Stock No. 017-001-00474-0 or Summary Report:  Stock No. 017-001-00473-1)
through the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington,
DC 20402-9325 (telephone 202-512-1800).

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Applications may be submitted by domestic and foreign, for-profit and non-profit
organizations, public and private, such as universities, colleges, hospitals,
laboratories, research institutions, units of state and of local governments, and
eligible agencies of the Federal government.  Applications from minority
individuals, women and persons with disabilities are encouraged.  Foreign
institutions are not eligible for small grants (R03).

MECHANISM OF SUPPORT

Support mechanisms for the RFA are research project grants (R01) and small grants
(R03).  Consultation with National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) program staff
is encouraged prior to application and is required for applications with Direct
Costs over $500,000 in any year.  Please refer to the guidelines for the specific
eligibility requirements for the small grant program (R03).

FUNDS AVAILABLE

The NIDA, with funds from ONDCP, has set aside $2 million total costs for the
first year of funding.  This level of support is dependent on the receipt of a
sufficient number and diversity of applications of high scientific merit.  Five
to six awards are anticipated for project periods not to exceed 5 years.

Because the nature and scope of the research being encouraged in response to this
RFA may vary, it is anticipated that the size of individual awards will vary
also.  Awards are subject to a  limit of $750,000 in total costs (direct plus
indirect costs) for each year.  Budget requests should be carefully justified and
be commensurate to the complexity of the project.  Although this program is
provided for in the financial plans of the NIDA, awards pursuant to this RFA are
contingent upon the availability of funds for this purpose.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

Interpersonal and media messages can have a significant influence on attitudes,
expectancies, intentions, and behaviors which affect individual decisions about
illicit drug use.  Although some knowledge has been developed regarding message
salience and acceptance, there has been little systematic study of communication
practices to prevent drug abuse.  Prior research indicates that health messages
with a positive goal are more readily accepted and maintained than messages with
a negative goal.  The theories and research-based knowledge about the attributes
of communications have been applied to drug abuse prevention research and
programming in a very limited way.  Thus, research targeting the full spectrum
of settings, from communications research in the laboratory to studies examining
the elements and impact of mass media and applied studies using prevention
communications in the community, is needed.

Laboratory research on the cognitive and affective aspects of communication that
enhance understanding and acceptance of messages is needed to form the basis from
which prevention programming and media messages can be developed.  Current
research suggests that the use of strategies such as indirect influence
techniques, conditioning in low-thought situations, and strengthening of existing
attitudes show promise for drug prevention programming.  However, it is not known
if these strategies are universally effective.  Studies that elucidate various
communication components such as audiovisual perceptions, motivations, and
salience would provide helpful background information for designing and targeting
messages.

The role of effective communication as a determinant of intervention success also
has not been addressed.  Incorporation of communications components into new
intervention trials would clarify the components of a successful intervention. 
Research on effective message construction and delivery in group settings may
lead to more cost effective programs.

Mass media, as communications vehicles, play an important role in reaching the
American public with a multitude of messages and images that provide news,
information, ideas, entertainment, and products that can affect every part of
American life.  Because the media have the ability to both reflect and shape
attitudes and behaviors, drug abuse prevention programmers often look to the
media to reach critical audiences with important messages.  Research in the 1970s
and early 1980s, however, showed that mass media campaigns designed to prevent
drug use by themselves often failed to do so for a variety of reasons.  More
reasonable expectations about the effectiveness of media for the delivery of
public health messages and recent developments in communications research are
stimulating renewed interest.  For example, some researchers have examined the
relationship between drug abuse stories in the natural  media (i.e., the media
environment of news, advertising, and entertainment programming including movies,
magazines, and television) and actual drug abuse trends and found that as media
attention declines, drug use increases among youth.  Furthermore, media coverage
appears to be related to the public s attitude about the seriousness of the drug
problem and to anti-drug attitudes among youth.

Despite the considerable progress made in drug abuse prevention research in
recent years, there have been few studies that have combined the most effective
research-based prevention interventions with sophisticated communication
approaches that could inform interventions, particularly the ONDCP media
campaign.  It is important, therefore, for NIDA to encourage the expansion of
research on communications approaches to drug abuse prevention.  Such research
will increase understanding the most effective use of the mass media for reaching
all audiences: individual to individual, individual to group, and mass
communications.  Specific areas of research that should be addressed include
message development, especially content, and structure and message delivery.  The
key issue is to establish principles of effective communication approaches to
discourage the initiation and progression of drug using behaviors, to encourage
discontinuation of drug use, and to address relapse once these behaviors have
been initiated.  Small-scale laboratory studies, research within particular
interventions and targeted communities, and large-scale studies of the impact of
the media are all needed.  Although this announcement focuses on children and
adolescents, research is also needed on parents and other adults who influence
drug-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors.

Examples of issues that would come under this RFA are:

o  Elucidation of the relationship between emotional and cognitive functioning
to better understand the shaping of messages so as to assure appropriate
responses to specific stimuli, such as triggering appropriate refusal behaviors
when confronted with the decision to use or not use drugs.  These studies can
range from laboratory to full community-wide interventions.

o  Assessment of communications messages, including terms of drug use
expectancies, and strategies that are appropriate to target audiences at
different developmental stages (such as 10-year-old children versus children who
are aged 12-14) or with specific cultural needs (such as new Latino/Hispanic
immigrants).

o  Studies on social cognition that characterize how youth process informative
material under varying conditions, to include being under the influence of drugs. 
Behavioral, physiological, and other measures of attention and arousal would be
appropriate.

o  Specification of the relationship between knowledge about drugs and the
harmful effects of drugs, attitudes or perceptions of risk and personal
susceptibility, and drug using/refusal behaviors with particular emphasis on
barriers that interfere with these relationships.

o  Assessment of media strategies that establish community norms against the use
of drugs and community support for drug abuse prevention programming, and
examination of the extent to which norms become individual values.

o  Analysis and assessment of the impact of the presentation of drug use in
existing media, both print and electronic, as well as advertisements and
entertainment, on attitudes, norms, and behaviors of children aged 9-18.

o  Assessment of the role and impact of the World Wide Web communications
networks to disseminate science-based drug prevention information and to
distribute pro-drug messages and misinformation to youth and adults.

o  Development of new epidemiologic models which include factors associated with
changes in drug use trends, such as availability of drugs, attitudes, risk
perceptions, price, as well as other economic factors.

The ONDCP will make available to researchers any media materials and paid media
buying resources associated with the National Youth Anti-Drug media campaign. 
Researchers who wish to incorporate these components into their research should
contact Alan Levitt, 202-395-6794.  Applications should include documentation
describing the use of these materials and the arrangements that have been made
with Mr. Levitt.

INCLUSION OF WOMEN AND MINORITIES IN RESEARCH INVOLVING HUMAN SUBJECTS

It is the policy of the NIH that women and members of minority groups and their
subpopulations must be included in all NIH supported biomedical and behavioral
research projects involving human subjects, unless a clear and compelling
rationale and justification is provided that inclusion is inappropriate with
respect to the health of the subjects or the purpose of the research.  This new
policy results from the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 (Section 492B of Public
Law 103-43).

All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should read the 
NIH Guidelines for Inclusion of Women and Minorities as Subjects in Clinical
Research, which were published in the Federal Register on March 28, 1994 (FR 59
14508-14513) and in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts on March 18, 1994,
Volume 23, Number 11.  Investigators may obtain copies from these sources or from
the program staff or contact person listed below.  Program staff may also provide
additional relevant information concerning the policy.

National Advisory Council On Drug Abuse Recommended Guidelines For The
Administration Of Drugs To Human Subjects

The National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse recognizes the importance of research
involving the administration of drugs to human subjects and has developed
guidelines relevant to such research.  Potential applicants are encouraged to
obtain and review these recommendations before submitting an application that
will administer compounds to human subjects.  The guidelines are available on
NIDA s Home Page at http://www.nida.nih.gov under the What's New, or they may be
obtained by calling 301-443-2755.

LETTER OF INTENT

Prospective applicants are asked to submit, by April 7, 1998, a letter of intent
that includes a descriptive title of the overall proposed research; the name,
address, telephone number, and institution of the Principal Investigator; the
names of other key investigators and their respective institutions; and the
number and title of the RFA in response to which the letter of intent is
submitted.  Although the letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and
is not a factor in the peer review of the application, the information it
contains is helpful in planning for the review of applications.

The letter of intent is to be sent to:

Director
Office of Extramural Program Review
National Institute on Drug Abuse
5600 Fishers Lane, Room 10-42
Rockville, MD  20857
Telephone:  (301) 443-2755
FAX:  (301) 443-0538

APPLICATION PROCEDURES

Applications are to be submitted on the grant application form PHS 398 (rev.
5/95).  These forms are available at most institutional offices of sponsored
research and may also be obtained from the Division of Extramural Outreach and
Information Resources, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive,
MSC-7910, Bethesda, MD 20892, telephone 301-435-0714, Email:  asknih@od.nih.gov.

The RFA label available in the PHS 398 (rev. 5/95) application form must be
affixed to the bottom of the face page of the application.  Failure to use this
label could result in delayed processing of the application such that it may not
reach the review committee in time for review.  In addition, to ensure the
identification of the application with this RFA the YES box must be marked in
Item 2 of the face page of the application form and the title and number of this
RFA typed in.  Applications that are not received as a single package from the
Principal Investigator and that do not conform to the instructions contained in
PHS 398 (rev. 5/95) application kit will be judged non-responsive and will be
returned to the applicant.

The completed original, including the checklist, and three legible copies must
be sent or delivered to:

CENTER FOR SCIENTIFIC REVIEW
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
6701 ROCKLEDGE DRIVE, ROOM 1040, MSC-7710
BETHESDA, MD  20892-7710
BETHESDA, MD  20817 (for express/courier service)

At the time of submission, two additional copies of the application must be sent
to:

Director
Office of Extramural Program Review
National Institute on Drug Abuse
5600 Fishers Lane, Room 10-42
Rockville, MD  20857
Telephone:  (301) 443-2755

Applications must be received by May 7, 1998.  If an application is received
after this date, it will be returned to the applicant without review.  The Center
for Scientific Review (CSR) will not accept any application in response to this
RFA that is essentially the same as one currently pending initial review, unless
the applicant withdraws the pending application.  The CSR will not accept any
application that is essentially the same as one already reviewed.  This does not
preclude the submission of substantial revisions of applications already
reviewed, but such applications must include an introduction addressing the
previous critique.

REVIEW CONSIDERATIONS

Review Procedures

Applications will be reviewed by the CSR for completeness and by NIDA staff to
determine responsiveness to the RFA.  Applications deemed not responsive to the
RFA and/or incomplete will be returned.  Applications that are responsive and
complete will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by an appropriate
peer review group convened by the NIDA in accordance with NIH peer review
procedures.  As part of the initial merit review, all applications will receive
a written critique and undergo a process in which they either will be scored or
not recommended for further consideration.  Those applications that are scored
will receive a second level review by the National Advisory Council on Drug
Abuse.

Review Criteria

The goals of NIH-supported research are to advance our understanding of
biological systems, improve the control of disease, and enhance health.  In the
written comments, reviewers will be asked to discuss the following aspects of the
application in order to judge the likelihood that the proposed research will have
a substantial impact on the pursuit of these goals.  Each of these criteria will
be addressed and considered in assigning the overall score, weighting them as 
appropriate for each application.  Note that the application does not need to be
strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact and
thus deserve a high priority score.  For example, an investigator may propose to
carry out important work that by its nature is not innovative but is essential
to move a field forward.

(1)  Significance:  Does this study address an important problem?  If the aims
of the application are achieved, how will scientific knowledge be advanced?  What
will be the effect of these studies on the concepts or methods that drive this
field?

(2)  Approach:  Are the conceptual framework, design, methods, and analyses
adequately developed, well-integrated, and appropriate to the aims of the
project?  Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider
alternative tactics?

(3)  Innovation:  Does the project employ novel concepts, approaches, or method? 
Are the aims original and innovative?  Does the project challenge existing
paradigms or develop new methodologies or technologies?

(4)  Investigator:  Is the investigator appropriately trained and well suited to
carry out this work?  Is the work proposed appropriate to the experience level
of the principal investigator and other researchers (if any)?

(5)  Environment:  Does the scientific environment in which the work will be done
contribute to the probability of success?  Do the proposed experiments take
advantage of unique features of the scientific environment or employ useful
collaborative arrangements?  Is there evidence of institutional support?

In addition to the above criteria, in accordance with NIH policy, all
applications will also be reviewed with respect to the following:

o  The adequacy of plans to include both genders, minorities, and their subgroups
as appropriate for the scientific goals of the research.  Plans for the
recruitment and retention of subjects will also be evaluated.

o  The reasonableness of the proposed budget and duration in relation to the
proposed research.

 o  The adequacy of the proposed protection for humans, animals, or the
environment, to the extent they may be adversely affected by the project proposed
in the application.

AWARD CRITERIA

Applications will be considered for funding based on the following factors: 
overall scientific and technical merit of the application as determined by peer
review; significance and originality of the proposed research; appropriateness
of budget estimates; program priorities; and availability of funds.

Schedule

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  April 7, 1998
Application Receipt Date:       May 7, 1998
Scientific Review Date:         August 1998
Council Meeting Date:           September 1998
Earliest Award Date:            September 1998

INQUIRIES

Inquiries concerning this RFA are encouraged.  The opportunity to clarify any
issues or questions from potential applicants is welcome.

Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues to:

Susan David, M.P.H.
Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research
National Institute on Drug Abuse
5600 Fishers Lane, Room 9A53
Rockville, MD  20857
Telephone:  (301) 443-6543
FAX:  (301) 443-2636
Email:  sd69t@nih.gov

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to :

Gary Fleming, J.D., M.S.
Grants Management Branch
National Institute on Drug Abuse
5600 Fishers Lane, Room 8A54
Rockville, MD  20857
Telephone:  (301) 443-6710
Email:  gf6s@nih.gov

AUTHORITY AND REGULATIONS

This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance No.
93.279.  Awards are made under authorization of the Public Health Service Act,
Title IV, Part A (Public Law 78-410, as amended by Public Law 99-158, 42 USC 241
and 285) and are administered under PHS grants policies and Federal Regulations
42 CFR 52 and 45 CFR Part 74.  This program is not subject to the
intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 12372 or Health Systems
Agency review.

The PHS strongly encourages all grant recipients to provide a smoke-free
workplace and promote the non-use of all tobacco products.  In addition, Public
Law 103-227, the Pro-Children Act of 1994, prohibits smoking in certain
facilities (or in some cases, any portion of a facility) in which regular or
routine education, library, day care, health care or early childhood development
services are provided to children.  This is consistent with the PHS mission to
protect and advance the physical and mental health of the American people.


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