NIH – Innovative Mental Health Services Research Not Involving Clinical Trials (R01)

April 28, 2017 by School of Medicine Webmaster

This program announcement is intended to foster mental health services research in strategic but understudied areas where new knowledge has the potential for high public health impact. This announcement supports non-clinical trials research, including quasi-experimental studies, survey or qualitative research methods, clinical epidemiology, and development and testing of new research methods, measures, or statistical approaches related to mental health services research. Services research can target patients, providers, healthcare leaders and administrators, and/or healthcare systems or other organizations that provide services to persons with mental disorders. NIMH encourages investigators to design their applications to maximize the likelihood that findings will meaningfully inform future research and/or be translated rapidly into practice, whether at the patient, clinic, healthcare/other system, or policy level.

Pilot studies consistent with NIMH priorities for mental health services research not involving interventions should be submitted via PAR-15-323, Pilot Services Research Grants Not Involving Interventions (R34).

Investigators are strongly encouraged to review NOT-OD-15-015 for guidance concerning the NIH definition of clinical trial research, which includes diagnostic, treatment, and preventive strategies as well as interventions involving delivery systems. Mental health services research questions that require a clinical trial design must be submitted via the appropriate NIMH Clinical Trials Funding Opportunity Announcement (see Applications submitted in response to the current Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) may not include a clinical trial within the aims; such applications will not be accepted by NIMH. Applicants considering clinical trials are encouraged to review the NIMH clinical trials website and contact NIMH Program Officials regarding the match between a potential application and current priorities.

NIMH strongly encourages investigators to develop and leverage partnerships with public and private stakeholders, so that the research follows a deployment-focused model of services design and testing. Deployment-focused studies take into account the perspective of relevant stakeholders and key characteristics of settings intended to implement optimized mental health interventions. This attention to end-user perspectives and characteristics of intended clinical and/or community practice settings is intended to ensure that resultant interventions and service delivery strategies are feasible and scalable, and to ensure that the research results will have utility for end users. Such stakeholders include, but are not limited to, federal agencies (e.g., Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs); 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; service users; family members; and community organizations. Such communication and collaboration will 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.

Given the critical need for practice-relevant research in community and practice settings, collaborations between academic investigators and clinical or community practice partners or networks are encouraged. When possible, studies should capitalize on existing infrastructure (e.g., practice-based research networks such as the NIMH-sponsored Mental Health Research Network, electronic medical records, administrative data bases, patient registries, institutions with Clinical and Translational Science Awards) to increase the efficiency of participant recruitment, data collection and management, and securing stakeholder support.

Under this FOA, NIMH seeks mental health services research applications in the following areas:

Research to improve the efficiency and clinical impact of existing mental health services:

  1. Developing and evaluating performance feedback systems, decision support tools, and quality improvement processes, which can be utilized across a range of systems (e.g., primary care, schools, criminal justice system, child welfare agencies) to optimize the delivery of effective mental health interventions.
  2. Developing pragmatic, valid, and reliable measures of intervention fidelity, quality, and treatment outcomes that can be applied at the person, clinic, system, and/or population levels.
  3. Identifying mutable factors that are likely to contribute to documented healthcare disparities in care access, continuity, quality, and outcomes for racial and ethnic minorities and other underserved groups and which can serve as targets for future intervention development and testing.
  4. Investigating alternative financing mechanisms that promote high quality, clinically effective, and efficient community-based care, including integrated medical and psychosocial treatment approaches   and discourage low-value services.

Research to improve dissemination, implementation, and sustainability of evidence-based mental health services as part of a learning healthcare system:

  1. Improving the dissemination, implementation, and delivery of evidence-based prevention and treatment practices in community mental health centers and other non-specialty care settings (e.g., primary medical care, schools, online and virtual communities).
  2. Examining mutable patient, provider, organizational, and policy-level factors that influence the degree to which evidence-based interventions are implemented with fidelity, and sustained over time, to include mutable factors that influence sustainment after the research project period has ended.
  3. Systematic, data-guided quality improvement activities that rigorously examine mental health care processes and outcomes within healthcare systems, leading to rapid, durable, and generalizable improvements in access and continuity of services, quality of care, and mental health outcomes at the individual and population level.
  4. Designing or validating instruments to measure dissemination, implementation, or sustainability processes; to measure changes in service user functioning or provider practice over time; or to assess organizational or systems processes related to access and continuity of services, quality of care, and mental health outcomes at the individual and population level.

Research on innovative service delivery models to reduce or eliminate known health disparities related to race, ethnicity, geography, sexual and gender minority status and/or socio-economic status, to dramatically improve outcomes in understudied populations in diverse United States communities, and to ensure high value mental health services are readily accessible to those in need;

  1. Utilizing innovative technologies (e.g., mobile devices, health information systems, social networking platforms) to improve early detection of mental illnesses, engaging and connecting service users to evidence-based care, and increasing the reach, clinical impact, and scalability of services for unserved populations in diverse settings.
  2. Developing and examining strategies for delivering evidence-based mental health services in non-specialty settings (e.g., criminal justice system, community-based programs providing mental health services to military or veteran populations, colleges or other academic settings, the child welfare system, or geriatric service settings), and leveraging those strategies to bolster the delivery of high quality evidence-based care in specialty care settings.
  3. Investigating the role of peer support specialists to improve access, engagement, and effectiveness of services for people with mental illnesses, with or without co-occurring medical and other conditions. This research may address related issues such as optimal integration of peer support staff in service delivery systems and financing of such services.
  4. Studying service delivery models that fully integrate treatment for mental illnesses with primary medical care, including medical decision models for treating mental illnesses and multiple chronic medical conditions.

Research to evaluate the public health impact of mental health services innovations in target populations using large representative data sets and novel computational approaches:

  1. Utilizing electronic health record data to examine the clinical epidemiology, service utilization, response to treatment, and health state transitions of people with mental health needs within or across large systems responsible for mental health service delivery.
  2. Monitoring real-time trends in suicidal behavior in health care and other settings and promoting effective data-driven planning to improve detection and prevention of suicide in defined populations.
  3. Using big data and commensurate analytic approaches (e.g., predictive analytics, machine learning, etc.) for the purposes of understanding concentrations of risk and optimizing mental health care.
  4. Developing, refining, or applying new methodological and computational approaches for the analysis of complex and dynamic systems affecting mental health outcomes, with the goal of demonstrating the impact of such factors on client outcomes.

Deadlines:  standard dates apply


Filed Under: Funding Opportunities