Full Text HD-93-07


NIH GUIDE, Volume 21, Number 38, October 23, 1992

RFA:  HD-93-07

P.T. 34

  Surveys & Survey Research 

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
National Institute on Aging

Application Receipt Date:  January 19, 1993


The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) invite applications for the
support of basic methodological research that will enhance the
collection and analysis of data to be used to answer demographic
research questions.  Broad areas to be supported include research
that further refines theoretical constructs and develops appropriate,
valid and reliable measures of those constructs, examines
characteristics of the interview situation that may affect the
collection of unbiased data, and assesses the sources of bias and the
impact of biased data on results.  Projects may address one or more
methodological issues.


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 Request
for Applications (RFA), Methodological Studies to Enhance Demographic
Research, is related to the priority areas of family and child
health.  Potential applicants may obtain a copy of "Healthy People
2000" (Full Report:  Stock No. 017-001-00474-0) or "Healthy People
2000" (Summary Report:  Stock No. 017-001-004734-1) through the
Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington,
DC 20402-9325 (telephone 202-783-3238).


Applications for R01s may be submitted by foreign and domestic,
for-profit and non-profit organizations, public and private, such as
universities, colleges, hospitals, laboratories, units of State and
local governments, and eligible agencies of the Federal government.
Applications from minorities and women are encouraged.  Foreign
institutions are not eligible for First Independent Research Support
and Transition (FIRST) (R29) awards.


Applications in response to this RFA will be funded through the
traditional individual research award (R01) program of the NIH and
the FIRST (R29) awards.  Responsibility for the planning, direction,
and execution of the proposed project will be solely that of the
applicant.  The total project period for applications submitted in
response to the present RFA may not exceed five years.  This
announcement is for a single competition with the application receipt
deadline of January 19, 1993. The average annual direct costs for an
R01 application will be $140,000, with a range of $50,000 to
$200,000.  For R29 applications, the budgetary conventions governing
FIRST awards will apply.


The NICHD has set aside $700,000 direct costs for the first year of
support for the program.  It is anticipated that four or five awards
will be made from NICHD funds.

The NIA Behavioral and Social Research Program will fund at least two
grants out of special set aside funds.  Aging related applications
that do not exceed $150,000 in total costs per year and are for three
or fewer years will also be eligible to compete for an additional
set-aside of $1.8 million for limited size, limited duration awards.
Applicants will also be eligible to compete for the general pool of
grant funds.

It is anticipated that only new applications will be received.  This
level of support is dependent on the receipt of a sufficient number
of applications of high scientific merit.  Although this program is
provided for in the financial plan of the institutes, awards pursuant
to this RFA are contingent upon the availability of funds for this


As a field of research, demography has been stretching beyond
traditional boundaries attempting to address concepts that can be
difficult to measure and, increasingly, moving into areas that are
considered sensitive.  For example, in the area of family and
household demography, researchers are investigating the effect of
family structure or changes in family structure on a variety of
outcomes.  However, a given family structure may serve as a marker
for an underlying process that is difficult to measure, yet critical
for understanding what causes behavior.  In addition, demography is
also seeing increasing emphasis on context as a critical determinant
of a variety of outcomes.  However, identifying and measuring the
most important elements of context requires methodological
development.  Even the measurement of many concepts with a long
tradition in demographic research, such as the "wantedness" of
pregnancies and births, has been elusive.  Conventional measures of
marital status may not capture the variety of unions or partnerships
in which people engage.  Similar examples can be found in many areas
of the demography of aging, such as, the measurement of individual
health and functioning, and the supply side of health and caretaker
services. Support would be provided for further conceptual
development of theoretical constructs important for advancing the
field of demographic research and for the development of valid and
reliable measures of those constructs.

Researchers have long been concerned about the accuracy of self-
reported data.  This continues to be an important area of inquiry.
Almost none of the variables of interest to social and behavioral
scientists have a biological marker to measure against and few have a
system of records against which to check self-reports.  Often, data
are collected from one person regarding activities that also involve
others and at times may not even involve the respondent.  Individuals
report on contraceptive and fertility-related behavior for both
partners in a relationship; one family member may report on the
activities for the entire family; parents frequently report on the
behavior of their children occurring when the children are not with
the parents.  The validity of the data can depend on the wording of
the questions, the mode of administration, the location of interview,
characteristics of the interviewer and respondent and other aspects
of the interviewing process.

Obtaining the cooperation of the respondents in sample surveys has
become increasingly difficult.  More effort is required to obtain
minimally acceptable response rates.  Often the response rates fall
short of that needed to minimize concerns about the introduction of
systematic bias in variables of substantive importance.  If the
survey is longitudinal, bias can be introduced through differential
attrition.  Research supported under this RFA could investigate means
of improving response rates to sample surveys and reducing attrition
in longitudinal studies.

As the areas of inquiry become more sensitive, the possibility of
extraneous influences on the data collected and the challenge of
developing ways to collect unbiased data become greater.  If the
topic of the survey is viewed as sensitive by the respondents,
reaching reasonable response rates may be even more difficult.  If
the cooperation of the respondent is obtained, he or she may refuse
to answer individual items or may give socially desirable responses.
Research examining bias in responses to particular topics and ways to
minimize that bias is appropriate for submission to this

Despite the best efforts of researchers, the data may have
inaccuracies and biases.  The quality of the data depends heavily on
the issues described above and others.  The critical questions then
become how does one assess the imprecision in the data and how does
the bias affect the results of the research.  Is the bias random or
systematic with respect to other relevant factors?  Applications for
further development of statistical methods to correct for bias could
be submitted under this RFA.

Additional examples of relevant research topics include, but are not
limited to, the following:

o  Development of measures of concepts, such as social or
neighborhood context, subculture, family stress, fertility
motivation, conjugal unions, or wantedness of pregnancies and births,
that can be used in large scale survey research.

o  Development of new, improved measures of family processes, e.g.,
parenting, household division of labor and allocation of resources.

o  Improvement of strategies for combining qualitative and
quantitative data to enhance insight into demographic processes.

o  Improvement of reporting of sensitive behaviors such as sexual
behavior and abortions; development of means of adjusting for
underreporting of abortions in surveys.

o  Development of improved measures of socioeconomic status for the
elderly and young adults; development of indicators of socioeconomic
status that may be validly and reliably reported retrospectively.

o  Development and evaluation of alternate approaches to data
collection, e.g., calendar methods, CAPI with children and the
elderly including expert system modules, alternative modes of

o  Development of efficient ways of combining data from different
surveys, some of which may be endogenously stratified and which
contain information about different, though overlapping, sets of

o  Development and/or validation or evaluation of new, improved,
alternative or experimental measures for use in future waves of such
aging-related surveys as the Health and Retirement Survey, the
Longitudinal Study on Aging II, the National Longitudinal Survey
(NLS)-Older Women's Cohort, the Health and Asset Dynamics Survey of
the Oldest Old, and the aging-related modules of the Panel Study of
Income Dynamics (PSID).

o  Improvement of the quality and feasibility of linking
administrative records from, e.g., Medicare, Medicaid, the National
Death Index (NDI), Social Security earnings and benefits, the Area
Resource File, hospital discharge files, and employer health and
pension benefits to microdata, through the development of
standardized matching techniques, algorithms for outcome measures,
validation of aggregated variables, and the development and
evaluation of new methods for maintaining confidentiality including
random transformations and imputed synthetic variables.  Also
required are evaluations of the analytic losses resulting from these
transformations.  Investigations of the quality of the demographic,
e.g., age and race, and other data in these files are also needed.

o  Development and evaluation of improved measures of self-reported
and performance-based physical and cognitive functioning needed for
every day activity, wealth and consumption, and family and household
structure that could be used in the proposed NIA/WHO cross-national
studies of the determinants of healthy aging in developed and
developing nations.

o  Comparisons of self-report versus performance measures of
Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and Instrumental Activities of Daily
Living (IADL).

o  evaluation of self-reported data on health conditions, such as
sexually transmitted diseases, other illnesses and injuries, and
services received; development of improved survey methods for
ascertaining health data.

o  determination and evaluation of the optimal use of proxies for
collecting data on children, other family members, spouses, the very
old, and those with cognitive and physical impairments.

o  evaluation of the quality of age reporting for the oldest old
cross- nationally, and among ethnic and linguistic groups in the

o  development and evaluation of approaches designed to produce high
response rates and good data quality in both cross-sectional and
longitudinal studies, including studies of nonresponse and refusal
bias.  Of particular interest are highly mobile populations, the
elderly, and racial and ethnic subgroups.

o  investigations of the impact on disability estimates of using area
versus list sampling frames for sampling older populations.

o  development of improved methods for forecasting such transfer
payments to the older population as Supplemental Security Income
(SSI), Medicare and Medicaid.

o  development of methods to compare and calibrate active life
expectancy and related measures, such as quality adjusted years,
across developed countries and socioeconomic status groups.

Research proposals need not be limited to the examples given above.
It is anticipated that many questions will derive from previous or
current research.  It may be cost-effective to design methodological
studies to be carried out in conjunction with ongoing research


Annual meetings will be held to foster the sharing of information,
data, and other experiences.  Principal and co-investigators will be
encouraged to attend these meetings, and funds must be included in
the application budget for one two-day meeting per year in Bethesda,
Maryland to discuss the research with other investigators.


Research may focus on U.S. or foreign populations.  Researchers are
encouraged to address questions relevant to men, women, and children
varying in their racial and socioeconomic background.


NIH policy is that applicants for NIH research grants and cooperative
agreements involving human subjects are required to include
minorities and women in study populations so that research findings
can be of benefit to all persons at risk of the disease, disorder or
condition under study; special emphasis must be placed on the need
for inclusion of minorities and women in studies of diseases,
disorders, and conditions which disproportionately affect them.  This
policy is intended to apply to males and females of all ages. If
women or minorities are excluded or inadequately represented in
clinical research, particularly in proposed population-based studies,
a clear compelling rationale must be provided.

The composition of the proposed study population must be described in
terms of gender and racial/ethnic group.  In addition, gender and
racial/ethnic issues should be addressed in developing a research
design and sample size appropriate for the scientific objectives of
the study.  This information must be included in the form PHS 398 in
Sections 1-4 of the Research Plan AND summarized in Section 5, Human
Subjects.  Applicants are urged to assess carefully the feasibility
of including the broadest possible representation of minority groups.
However, NIH recognizes that it may not be feasible or appropriate in
all research projects to include representation of the full array of
United States racial/ethnic minority populations (i.e., Native
Americans (including American Indians or Alaskan Natives),
Asian/Pacific Islanders, Blacks, Hispanics).  The rationale for
studies on single minority population groups must be provided.  For
the purpose of this policy, clinical research is defined as human
biomedical and behavioral studies of etiology, epidemiology,
prevention (and preventive strategies), diagnosis, or treatment of
diseases, disorders or conditions, including but not limited to
clinical trials.

The usual NIH policies concerning research on human subjects also
apply.  Basic research or clinical studies in which human tissues
cannot be identified or linked to individuals are excluded.  However,
every effort should be made to include human tissues from women and
racial/ethnic minorities when it is important to apply the results of
the study broadly, and this should be addressed by applicants.

For foreign awards, the policy on inclusion of women applies fully;
since the definition of minority differs in other countries, the
applicant must discuss the relevance of research involving foreign
population groups to the United States' populations, including

If the required information is not contained within the application,
the review will be deferred until the information is provided.  Peer
reviewers will address specifically whether the research plan in the
application conforms to these policies.  If the representation of
women or minorities in a study design is inadequate to answer the
scientific question(s) addressed AND the justification for the
selected study population is inadequate, it will be considered a
scientific weakness or deficiency in the study design and will be
reflected in assigning the priority score to the application.

All applications for clinical research submitted to NIH are required
to address these policies.  NIH funding components will not award
grants or cooperative agreements that do not comply with these


Applications are to be submitted on form PHS 398 (rev. 9/91) that is
available in most institutional business offices or from the Office
of Grants Inquiries, Division of Research Grants, National Institutes
of Health, Westwood Building, Room 449, Bethesda, MD 20892, telephone
(301) 496-7447.  FIRST (R29) award applications must include at least
three sealed letters of reference attached to the face page of the
original application.  FIRST (R29) award applications submitted
without the required number of reference letters will be considered
incomplete and will be returned without review.  Applications must be
identified by checking the "yes" box in Item 2a on the face page of
the application and by typing the words, "In Response to RFA HD-
93-07."  The RFA label in form PHS 398 must be affixed to the bottom
of the face page of the original application. Failure to use this
label could result in delayed processing of your application such
that it may not reach the review committee in time for review.  The
signed original (topmost) and three copies of the applications must
be received by January 19, 1992.  Applications must be sent or
delivered to:

Grant Application Receipt Office
Division of Research Grants
National Institutes of Health
Room 240, Westwood Building
Bethesda, MD  20892**

It is extremely important for the timely review of your application
that two additional copies of the application be sent under separate
cover to:

Laurance S. Johnston, Ph.D.
Deputy Director, Division of Scientific Review
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
6100 Executive Boulevard, Room 5E03
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 496-1485

Applications must be received by January 19, 1993.  Late applications
will not be accepted.


Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed by NICHD/NIA staff for
completeness and responsiveness to the RFA.  Incomplete applications
will be returned to the applicant without further consideration.  If
the application is judged to be nonresponsive to the RFA, NIH staff
will return the application to the applicant.  The applicant may
resubmit the application and have it assigned for review in the same
manner as the unsolicited grant applications during the next review

If the application submitted in response to this RFA is substantially
similar to a grant application already submitted to the NIH for
review, but has not yet been reviewed, the applicant will be asked to
withdraw either the pending application or the new one.  Simultaneous
submission of identical applications will not be allowed, nor will
essentially identical applications be reviewed by different review
committees.  Therefore, an application cannot be submitted in
response to this RFA that is essentially identical to one that has
already been reviewed.  This does not preclude the submission of
substantial revisions of applications already reviewed, but such
applications must include an introduction addressing the previous

Applications may be triaged by an NICHD/NIA peer review group on the
basis of relative competitiveness.  The NIH will withdraw from
further competition those applications judged to be non-competitive
for award and notify the applicant Principal Investigator and
institutional official.  Those applications judged to be competitive
will undergo further scientific merit review by a special study
section convened by the NICHD in accordance with the criteria stated
below.  The second level of review will be provided by the
appropriate National Advisory Council.

The review criteria for the research projects are:

o  scientific and technical significance of proposed research;

o  appropriateness and adequacy of the research approach and
methodology proposed to carry out the research;

o  qualifications and research experience of the Principal
Investigator and staff, particularly, but not exclusively, in the
area of the proposed research;

o  availability of resources necessary to perform the research;

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


The anticipated date of award is August 1, 1993.

Responsiveness to the RFA, scientific merit, and technical
proficiency, as described in the application, will be the predominant
criteria for determining funding.


Written and telephone inquiries are encouraged.  The opportunity to
clarify any issues or questions from potential applicants is welcome.

Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues to:

Virginia S. Cain, Ph.D.
Center for Population Research
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
6100 Executive Boulevard, Room 8B13
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 496-1174


Richard Suzman, Ph.D.
Behavioral and Social Research Program
National Institute on Aging
Gateway Building, Room 2C234
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 496-3136

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Melinda B. Nelson
Office of Grants and Contracts
6100 Executive Boulevard, Room 8A17
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 496-5481


Ms. Linda Whipp
Grants and Contracts Management Office
National Institute on Aging
Gateway Building, Room 2N212
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 496-1472


This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic
Assistance No. 93.864 and No. 93.866.  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 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.


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