APA and OBSSR Showcase Psychological Research

James F. Sallis, PhD
James F. Sallis, PhD
APA and the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) held a Science Writers' Briefing in December to highlight the contributions that psychological research has made to understanding human health. The briefing, which took place on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD, was moderated by Norman Anderson, PhD, Director of OBSSR. Top researchers from the field of health psychology drew to NIH several science writers, including reporters from USA Today and Pediatric News.

Following an introduction by Dr. Anderson, Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, a psychologist, and Ronald Glaser, PhD, an immunologist, from Ohio State University, presented their research on "Psychological Stress, the Brain, and the Immune System." As two of the leading experts in the area of psychoneuroimmunoloy, they discussed their ground-breaking findings on the profound effects of psychological stress on the immune system and the potential for these effects to increase susceptibility to disease.

Dr. Kiecolt-Glaser's research has focused on immunological and endocrinological responses to marital conflict. Her research findings have indicated that women's, but not men's, immunological functioning is adversely affected by marital dissatisfaction.

Dr. Glaser has investigated how immune changes associated with stress increase the risk for infectious disease. His findings have consistently indicated that psychological stress can alter how a person responds to a vaccine, and, thus, to exposure to a virus.

During the second half of the briefing, James F. Sallis, Jr., PhD, a psychologist at San Diego State University, gave an address on "Promoting Physical Activity Among Children and Adults: What Works and What Doesn't." He discussed how his research findings have been implemented in schools around the country to promote physical fitness. In addition, he talked about his and others' studies that have demonstrated that physician-based counseling for physical activity is effective in producing short-term increases in moderate physical activity among previously sedentary adults. Dr. Sallis was a major contributor to the Surgeon General's report, "Physical Activity and Health."

Drs. Kiecolt-Glaser, Glaser, and Sallis successfully conveyed the message that the behavioral sciences can contribute to solving the nation's health problems. At NIH, the center for federally funded biomedical and behavioral research, it is particularly critical that this message be heard.

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