Research on Skin Cancer–Related Behaviors and Outcomes in the NIH Grant Portfolio, 2000-2014: Skin Cancer Intervention Across the Cancer Control Continuum (SCI-3C)

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Abstract

Importance

The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer broadly identified research gaps, but specific objectives are needed to further behavioral intervention research.

Objective

To review National Institute of Health (NIH) grants targeting skin cancer–related behaviors and relevant outcomes.

Design, Setting, and Participants

A portfolio analysis of the title, abstract, specific aims, and research plans of identified grant applications from 2000 to 2014 targeting skin cancer–related behaviors or testing behavioral intervention effects on cancer-relevant outcomes along the cancer continuum.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Funding trends were compared along the cancer control continuum, with respect to investigator demographics and use of theory, technology, policy, and changes to environmental surroundings (built environment).

Results

A total of 112 submitted applications met inclusion criteria; of these, 40 (35.7%) were funded, and 31 of the 40 were interventions. Comparing the 40 funded grants with the 72 unfunded grants, the overall success rates did not differ significantly between male (33.3%) and female (37.3%) investigators, nor did the frequency of R01 awards (36.7% and 28.1%, respectively). Among intervention awards, most (24 of 31) addressed prevention. Fewer awards targeted detection alone or in conjunction with prevention (3) or cancer survivorship (4), and no grant addressed emotional sequelae or adherence behavior related to diagnosis or treatment. Fewer than half of funded grants aimed for clinically related targets (eg, sunburn reduction). Use of theory and technology occurred in more than 75% of grants. However, the full capability of proposed technology was infrequently used, and rarely did constructs of the proposed behavior change theory clearly and comprehensively drive the intervention approach. Policy or environmental manipulation was present in all dissemination grants but was rarely used elsewhere, and 19.4% included policy implementation and 25.8% proposed changes in built environment.

Conclusions and Relevance

Grant success rate in skin cancer–related behavioral science compares favorably to the overall NIH grant success rate (approximately 18%), and the success rate of male and female investigators was not statistically different. However, gaps exist in behavioral research addressing all points of the skin cancer control continuum, measuring interventions that hit clinically related targets, and leveraging technology, theory, and environmental manipulation to optimize intervention approach.

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