Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Aging-Relevant Behavioral and Social Research on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Notice Number:
NOT-AG-21-015

Key Dates

Release Date:

January 26, 2021

First Available Due Date:
March 04, 2021
Expiration Date:
May 08, 2023

Related Announcements

PA-20-183 - NIH Research Project Grant (Parent R01 Clinical Trial Required)

PA-20-184 - Research Project Grant (Parent R01 Basic Experimental Studies with Humans Required)

PA-20-185 - NIH Research Project Grant (Parent R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

PA-20-200 - NIH Small Research Grant Program (Parent R03 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

PA-20-194 - NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21 Clinical Trial Required)

PA-20-196 - NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21 Basic Experimental Studies with Humans Required)

PA-20-195 - NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

PAR-19-374 - Complex Integrated Multi-Component Projects in Aging Research (U19 Clinical Trial Optional)

PAR-19-314 - NIA Program Project Applications (P01 Clinical Trial Optional)

PAR-19-070 - Research on Current Topics in Alzheimer's Disease and Its Related Dementias (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)

PAR-19-071 - Research on Current Topics in Alzheimer's Disease and Its Related Dementias (R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

PAR-20-070 - Research Infrastructure Development for Interdisciplinary Aging Studies (R21/R33 - Clinical Trial Optional)

Issued by

National Institute on Aging (NIA)

Purpose

NIA is issuing this Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) to highlight the continuing need for behavioral, psychological, social, and economic research on SARS-CoV-2 and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). There is a need for ongoing research on the longer-term effects of COVID-19 on the health and well-being of those infected, those caring for the sick, and many others whose lives were disrupted by the pandemic and its associated mitigation and prevention strategies. Beyond effects on individuals, this pandemic has brought about unprecedented social and economic disruption that is expected to have long-term and profound effects on the health of the population. These effects will likely be particularly acute for NIH-designated health disparity populations, and other COVID-19 vulnerable groups including older adults, who have experienced higher rates of COVID-19 infection, who in some cases rely on the efforts of paid and unpaid care partners, and who may have additional barriers to accessing the medical system itself. Further, middle-aged and older frontline healthcare and essential workers and their families face unique risks of exposure to both infection and other health-related outcomes by virtue of their employment.

Background

The current COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 has caused more than 50 million confirmed cases worldwide, with more than 15 million in the US alone, and has killed more than 1 million people, including more than 300,000 in the US. As of the publication of this notice, news of promising vaccines suggests a potential end to the unchecked spread of the virus, though concerns remain about equitable distribution, uptake, and adherence to vaccination protocols. Even after the pandemic has subsided, significant behavioral, psychological, social, and economic consequences will remain to be addressed for years to come. Lessons we learn from the sequelae of the current crisis could have huge value given the risks of future epidemics. For example, measures to control the spread of the virus during the pandemic, such as physical distancing and business closures, may produce secondary health effects beyond direct infection. Given the central role of behavioral factors and social processes in prevention and management of COVID-19, the social and behavioral sciences are uniquely poised to address these challenges.

Research Objectives

In order to rapidly improve our understanding of the behavioral, social, and economic effects of the pandemic and to enhance our ability to control its spread, NIA is encouraging the submission of applications on these research areas to the FOAs specified in the Application and Submission Information Section below.  

Research Areas of Interest:

Recommended areas of research include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Use of longitudinal studies collecting multidisciplinary data (often from nationally representative and diverse samples) in order to elucidate how COVID-19 related changes in the social, economic, institutional, and policy environments differentially impact the health and welfare of people across the life course and in vulnerable social groups; inform programs and policies to prepare the world for the next pandemic; and compare regional and national impacts and approaches.
  • Use of longitudinal studies to gather unique “real-time” data for rapid assessments of risk factors and outcomes in order to guide evolving public health and treatment strategies.
  • Studies exploiting “natural experiments” associated with COVID-19 economic and health shocks as well as differences in local policies related to mitigation and prevention in order to assess direct and indirect impacts on health and well-being.
  • Studies focused on the challenges involved in informing vulnerable populations about preventative health measures (e.g., hand washing, mask wearing, physical distancing, vaccine uptake) and securing and maintaining broad adherence in order to slow virus spread and limit illness and deaths. For example: How do vulnerable groups and older adults more generally get their information and what sources do they trust? What factors support or discourage adherence to prevention practices and vaccine uptake? What accounts for individual, age, and group differences in adherence to prevention efforts? Do social networks serve to reinforce or disrupt prevention efforts?
  • Studies focused on how the short- and longer-term pandemic has influenced economic and social shocks (e.g. unemployment, foreclosure, loss of health insurance) affecting the health and well-being of different populations (e.g., rural/urban, older/middle age/younger, racial/ethnic groups).
  • Studies examining how physical distancing requirements and associated social isolation and loneliness impact the health and well-being of midlife and older adult populations, including impacts on psychological well-being, cognitive health, and health behaviors. What strategies implemented by individuals, health systems, institutions, communities, and local governments have been more or less successful at mitigating social isolation and loneliness among older adults?
  • Research considering how mitigation strategies and accompanying financial strain influence health care utilization and health, including individuals with disabilities, multiple chronic conditions, mild cognitive impairment, and/or Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias, as well as their care partners and families. What are the interrelated health and economic implications of stay-at-home policies on the health and well-being of midlife and older adults with family care responsibilities, including care for children and older family members?
  • Evaluation of strategies used by health systems to reallocate resources, rapidly train practitioners, communicate preventative practices, and maintain adherence to public health and clinical guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particular interest in those that serve high-risk groups (e.g., nursing homes) and resulting racial, ethnic, and/or regional disparities in access/care.
  • Studies examining the extent to which existing age, racial, ethnic, gender, socioeconomic, or geographic health disparities are exacerbated by the COVID-19 epidemic, including studies of 1) differential access to and use of health care services, and 2) differential access to information about, attitudes toward, and uptake of preventive measures, testing, and vaccines.
  • Research to address vaccine hesitancy, uptake, and implementation among NIH-designated health disparities populations and other COVID-19 vulnerable populations. For example: How do multilevel factors, including policies, health systems, communication modalities (e.g. social media), community-level factors, and interpersonal and individual-level variables reduce or maximize vaccine access, uptake, and series completion in different populations? How might programs to reduce concerns, increase trust and preparedness, and facilitate uptake of the vaccine be best implemented in various settings and environments (e.g., nursing homes, assisted living facilities, medical centers, dental clinics, community health clinics, pharmacies, Tribal health facilities, workplaces, pharmacies, remote care settings, and non-healthcare contexts)?

As noted in NOT-OD-20-118, investigators are encouraged to use existing, well-validated, and well-established instruments, but COVID-19 specific instruments have developed rapidly in response to the pandemic. To minimize the proliferation of “one-off” survey items, encourage comparisons across samples, and facilitate data integration and collaboration, existing COVID-19 survey items and source contact information are publicly available through two NIH-supported platforms: the NIH Public Health Emergency and Disaster Research Response (DR2) and the PhenX Toolkit. Researchers addressing COVID-19 questions, whether population-based or for clinical research, are strongly encouraged to consider these COVID-19 specific survey item repositories and select existing survey items or protocol modules currently being fielded if consensus-based measures are not available.

  • The NIH Public Health Emergency and Disaster Research Response (DR2) has been established and hosted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM). This site includes COVID-19 related survey instruments and additional information such as the domains assessed, protocols, and a wide array of data collection tools and resources used in other public health emergencies and disasters.
  • The PhenX Toolkit, funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and other NIH Institutes and Centers, now hosts a COVID-19 Research Collection. In addition, the PhenX Toolkit has a large collection of well-established and vetted phenotypic measurement protocols, including its newly released social determinants of health collections. These protocols are suitable for inclusion in COVID-19-related studies, enabling data harmonization across studies.

Investigators planning to submit an application in response to this NOSI are strongly encouraged to contact and discuss their proposed research/aims with program staff listed below well in advance of the grant receipt date to better determine appropriateness and interest of NIA.

Application and Submission Information

Applications for this initiative must be submitted using the following opportunities or their subsequent reissued equivalents.

  • PA-20-183 - NIH Research Project Grant (Parent R01 Clinical Trial Required)
  • PA-20-184 - Research Project Grant (Parent R01 Basic Experimental Studies with Humans Required)
  • PA-20-185 - NIH Research Project Grant (Parent R01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
  • PA-20-200 - NIH Small Research Grant Program (Parent R03 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
  • PA-20-194 - NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21 Clinical Trial Required)
  • PA-20-196 - NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21 Basic Experimental Studies with Humans Required)
  • PA-20-195 - NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Program (Parent R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
  • PAR-19-374 - Complex Integrated Multi-Component Projects in Aging Research (U19 Clinical Trial Optional)
  • PAR-19-314 - NIA Program Project Applications (P01 Clinical Trial Optional)
  • PAR-19-070 - Research on Current Topics in Alzheimer's Disease and Its Related Dementias (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)
  • PAR-19-071 - Research on Current Topics in Alzheimer's Disease and Its Related Dementias (R21 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)
  • PAR-20-070 - Research Infrastructure Development for Interdisciplinary Aging Studies (R21/R33 - Clinical Trial Optional)

Application types (i.e., New, Renewal, Resubmission, Revision) will be accepted as indicated in Section II, Application Types Allowed of the FOA. To be eligible for a revision (a competing supplement) application, the parent award for the revision must be an active NIA award (i.e., not be in an extension period) at the time of award.

Applicants must include NOT-AG-21-015 in the Agency Routing Identifier field (box 4B) of the SF424 R&R form.

  • Applications must follow the instructions in the Application Guide to point out issues of potential biohazards in the Research Strategy Section of the application. All research must be conducted in compliance with the health and safety requirements found in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Applications nonresponsive to terms of this NOSI will not be considered for the NOSI initiative.

Inquiries

Please direct all inquiries to the contacts in Section VII of the listed funding opportunity announcements with the following additions/substitutions:

Scientific/Research Contact

Jonathan W. King, Ph.D.
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Telephone: 301-496-3136
Email: kingjo@nia.nih.gov

Peer Review Contact(s)

Examine your eRA Commons account for review assignment and contact information (information appears two weeks after the submission due date).

Financial/Grants Management Contact

Traci Lafferty
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Telephone: 301-496-8987
Email: laffertt@nia.nih.gov


Weekly TOC for this Announcement
NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices