NIH Priorities for Health Economics Research
by Carrie D. Wolinetz, Ph.D
Just before the Thanksgiving holiday, National Institutes of Health (NIH) released important guidance regarding funding of health economics related research. You can read the notice here. ASHEcon solicited feedback from NIH regarding the notice. You can find below comments from Carrie D. Wolinetz, Ph.D., Associate Director for Science Policy at NIH:
The recent announcement by NIH clarifying our priorities in health economics has likely raised questions in the research community about what this means for the field going forward. First and foremost, the Guide Notice clearly demonstrates the importance that NIH places on supporting health economics research in which health outcomes and health-related behaviors are the primary focus, and the connection between the subject(s) of the study and improved understanding of health are clear and explicit. Health economics research that makes a strong, explicit tie to health and health-related outcomes is central to the NIH mission, and NIH believes that such studies are a worthy investment of taxpayer funds. It is also true that an economic analysis is often included as one piece of a larger study and that such analysis is often part of understanding the real-world consequences of health interventions. Studies where the primary focus of the research is not health economics, but include such analyses as a secondary aim, continue to be a valued part of the NIH portfolio.
Some topics and approaches which are not necessarily NIH-wide priorities may still be priorities for the missions of individual Institutes and Centers. Principal Investigators (PIs) and potential PIs for NIH research grants should consult with NIH program officers in Institutes and Centers appropriate to their proposed topic if they have questions about whether their work will fit program priorities.
The Notice also identifies study topics outside the NIH mission, which will not be funded by the agency. These topics, while potentially valuable areas of scholarly or scientific inquiry, do not connect clearly to NIH’s mission or priorities related to the understanding of health, and therefore may be a better fit at other organizations and agencies. This underscores NIH’s strong commitment to responsible stewardship of the taxpayer dollars and to transparency in setting priorities for the agency.