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National Cancer Institute
Behavioral Research - Cancer Control and Population Sciences

Health Communication and Informatics Research: Research Areas
Social Media

In a changing health communication landscape brought on by technology and new media, HCIRB would like to engage scholars and practitioners from multiple disciplines in areas such as:

  • Descriptive behavior research to characterize user-generated content and interactions relevant to health
    • Natural Language Processing-assisted quantitative methods, network analysis and sentiment analysis
  • Dynamic health intervention design through Web 2.0 technologies: to measure exposure, reach and engagement
    • Nimble and rapid experimental design
    • Systems science and engineering
    • Mixed methods approaches
    • Leveraging unique functions of participative media (e.g. peer support and connection; enabling authentic  voices of individuals)
  • Addressing the digital divide and digital literacy from a health equity perspective

Funding Opportunity

The NCI Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch recently led two funding opportunities on social media and addiction.  The research initiative, Using Social Media to Understand and Address Substance Use and Addiction [RFA-CA-14-008 (R01) & RFA-CA-14-009 (R21)] is funded as part of Collaborative Research on Addiction at NIH (CRAN), a trans-NIH partnership with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Interactions on social media have the potential to influence attitudes and behaviors related to alcohol, tobacco, and other drug (ATOD) use. To advance the science and methodology in this emerging field, the funding opportunity invited proposals in two distinct areas: 1) observational research using social media interactions as surveillance tools to aid in the understanding of the epidemiology, risk factors, attitudes, and behaviors associated with ATOD use and addiction, and 2) intervention research measuring the reach, engagement, and behavioral and health impact of social media-based interventions for the screening, prevention, and treatment, of ATOD use and addiction.

The funding announcements attracted a large number of applications from researchers representing diverse fields of study. The funding plan was approved by NCI Scientific Program Leadership in July, 2014, and grant awards will be made this fall.

CRAN provides a collaborative framework for NCI, NIDA, and NIAAA to integrate resources and expertise to advance substance use, abuse, and addiction research and public health outcomes.

For more information about health communication and social media research at NCI, please contact Wen-ying Sylvia Chou at 240-276-6954 or

Last Updated: September 10, 2014

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