National institutes of health funding for behavioral interventions to prevent chronic diseases

Chris Calitz, Keshia M. Pollack, Chris Millard, Derek Yach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) cause the majority of premature deaths, disability, and healthcare expenditures in the U.S. Six largely modifiable risk behaviors and factors (tobacco use, poor nutrition, physical inactivity, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and poor mental health) account for more than 50% of premature mortality and considerably more morbidity and disability. The IOM proposed that population burden of disease and preventability should be major determinants of the amount of research funding provided by the U.S. NIH. Data on NIH prevention funding between fiscal years 2010 and 2012 for human behavioral interventions that target the modifiable risk factors of NCDs were analyzed during 2013-2014. The NIH prevention portfolio comprises approximately 37% human behavioral studies and 63% basic biomedical, genetic, and animal studies. Approximately 65% of studies were secondary prevention versus 23% for primary prevention, and 71% of studies intervened at the individual and family levels. Diet and exercise were the most-studied risk factors (41%), and few studies conducted economic analyses (12%). NIH spends an estimated $2.2-$2.6 billion annually (7%-9% of the total of $30 billion) on human behavioral interventions to prevent NCDs. Although NIH prevention funding broadly aligns with the current burden of disease, overall funding remains low compared to funding for treatment, which suggests funding misalignment with the preventability of chronic diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-471
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican journal of preventive medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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