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Research Priorities for Strategic Objective 4

Updated: January 2019

Strengthen the Public Health Impact of NIMH-Supported Research

NIMH seeks new and innovative research that will inform and support the delivery of consistently high-quality mental health services to benefit the greatest number of individuals with, or at risk for developing, a mental illness. The translation of findings is bidirectional, with services research approaches benefitting from findings out of the basic sciences, and clinical research illuminating critical and novel basic science questions. Research should: seek to improve access, continuity, quality, equity, outcomes, and value of care; study ways to measure and scale-up effective strategies; develop innovative methodologies to study these issues; and, build new and leverage existing infrastructure and partnerships to accomplish these goals.

NIMH encourages applications in line with the four strategies of this objective. In particular, NIMH encourages investigators to design their applications to maximize the likelihood that findings can and will meaningfully inform and/or be translated into practice – whether at the patient, clinic, health/other system, or policy level. Ideally, research findings will inform the real-world community practice setting where the research is being conducted but will also be generalizable to similar populations and settings. Such design entails including an examination of the service delivery contexts that influence provision of care in real-world settings. Likewise, applications should specify dependent measures and analyses that will yield practical knowledge for multiple stakeholder groups, including patients and caregivers seeking evidence-based care; providers seeking to adopt proven strategies; systems administrators seeking to maximize quality and value; and, decision-makers aiming to improve public health while minimizing additional resource burden. Such research should be conducted in community practice and externally valid settings; involve research participants from highly generalizable target populations to include those with medical and other co-occurring conditions; address developmental trajectories and functioning; and, utilize care providers and technologies that can be readily and widely implemented in routine care settings.

NIMH encourages investigators to communicate and collaborate with public and private stakeholders, in order to ensure successful implementation on a population basis. Such stakeholders include, but are not limited to, national-level agencies (e.g., Ministries of Health, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Health Resources and Services Administration, Indian Health Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Defense); state or provincial agencies; commercial health insurers/funders; public and commercial disability insurers; employers and other payers; delivery systems; professional/trade associations; accrediting and licensing organizations; medical education and other training programs; clinicians; vendors of information technology and other relevant products/services; and, non-governmental, advocacy, and community organizations. Such communication and collaboration should be designed to ensure findings are relevant and practical; create opportunities for research that is not otherwise feasible; and, enable stakeholders to anticipate relevant research initiatives in their planning and activities.

Research priority areas are identified within each of the following four strategies:

4.1: Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of existing mental health services through research
4.2: Establish research-practice partnerships to improve dissemination, implementation, and continuous improvement of evidence-based mental health services
4.3: Develop innovative service delivery models to improve dramatically the outcomes of mental health services received in diverse communities and populations
4.4: Develop new capacity for research that evaluates the public health impact of mental health services innovations

These research topics are not intended to be exhaustive. Prior to submitting an application, investigators are encouraged to contact NIMH program staff to discuss proposed aims and relevance to these objectives. Please reference the relevant strategic objective and research priority in the project summary section of your application. Investigators are also encouraged to take advantage of existing NIMH and NIH resources where appropriate.