202101 Dyadic interpersonal processes and biopsychosocial outcomes

Program seeks Council approval for an OppNet initiative titled, “Dyadic interpersonal processes and biopsychosocial outcomes.” This initiative invites basic or methodological social science research projects that illuminate and/or measure independent and interdependent health-related effects within dyadic relationships. This concept was developed by the OppNet dyads concept team, which consisted of 16 program directors from eight NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices (ICOs). The initiative was approved by the OppNet Steering Committee in July 2020.

OppNet is a trans-NIH group led and supported by the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research (OBSSR). OppNet funds research activities that build scientific knowledge on the nature of behaviors and social systems and/or deepen scientific understanding of basic social-behavioral mechanisms and processes. OppNet will lead this initiative. NICHD, along with several other ICOs, will be secondary. We are presenting this initiative to Council because OppNet-led initiatives require one participating ICO to seek Council approval on behalf of all participating ICOs.

This FOA defines a dyad as a social unit of two individuals whose interactions and influences on one another are bidirectional and nested within larger social contexts and networks. To date, much of the research on dyads and health has relied on self-reported data that were collected from only one member of the dyad rather than both members. While some past studies of dyads used lab-based methods that included simultaneous observational and psychophysiological measures, twentieth-century technology and resources constrained real-world dyadic data collection. However, contemporary technologies facilitate the collection of real-time biological, behavioral, interpersonal, social, and environmental data across individuals and settings that can illuminate dyadic mechanisms and processes. Research projects responsive to this FOA must address at least one of two broad questions:

  1. How do interpersonal, dyadic-level processes influence health, illness, recovery, treatment, and/or overall wellbeing of one or both members of a dyad?
  2. How do processes at individual or structural levels influence the dyadic interactions associated with health?

By illuminating the biopsychosocial mechanisms through which key dyads—such as mothers and infants, romantic partners, providers and patients, and care givers and receivers--affect health and well-being, this proposed concept aligns with three NICHD 2020 Strategic Plan research themes: promoting reproductive health (Theme 2), setting the foundation for healthy pregnancies and lifelong wellness (Theme 3), and improving child and adolescent health and the transition to adulthood (Theme 4).

Program Contact

Ronna Popkin
Population Dynamics Branch (PDB)

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