Last November the NIH issued a Notice clarifying the types of economics research that the agency will fund. Our OBSSR colleagues wrote an informative blog about the Notice in December. Although we in HDRP have received few questions about this notice, I thought it would be useful to provide some basic suggestions.
The most important thing to realize is that NCI continues to fund research that falls under the rubric of “economics.” The grants currently in our portfolio all appear to fit within the priority areas identified in the Notice. In addition, the research resources created by HDRP, like the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS): Experiences with Cancer Survivorship Supplement, are all consistent with the types of supported work described in the Notice.
Whether the proposed research focuses on health outcomes is the key consideration. Examples of applications likely to qualify as meeting NIH priorities include studies of socioeconomic influences on risk and screening behavior, financial burden during cancer treatment, and the application of behavioral economics principles to improve care quality. Less likely to qualify would be studies about how oncology drug prices are influencing the US economy or the role of oncologists in healthcare reform. While cost-effectiveness studies taking the patient perspective probably would meet the criteria, studies taking the societal perspective probably would not. Studies of the impact of healthcare reform on cancer survival would likely qualify, studies of the impact of healthcare reform on employment likely would not.
Investigators who have questions about the appropriateness of their proposed work for NCI should contact us. We are happy to talk with you about your ideas and how they fit within NCI priorities.