Dyadic Processes

Historically, interventions that aim to increase health promoting behaviors and/or decrease health risk behaviors have operated at either the individual level or the policy/environment levels. Very little research has focused on interpersonal relationships as a facilitator or inhibitor of positive health behavior change and its maintenance (and when social influences on behavior are examined, they are still often queried at the individual rather than dyadic or social network level).

Yet, close interpersonal relationships (e.g., between romantic partners, friends and family members) may be uniquely consequential for behaviors related to cancer prevention, because individuals in such relationships regularly share time and space, jointly participate in activities, and often have shared goals or motivations. Moreover, many close interpersonal relationships involve shared financial and other tangible resources, joint investments, and a division of labor and responsibilities. Indeed, cancer prevention behaviors (e.g., eating and physical activity behavior) are concordant among couples, as is change in such behavior.

Additional research is needed to better understand the role of relational dynamics in health behaviors across the cancer continuum – from primary prevention (e.g., regular physical activity) to secondary prevention (e.g., screening) to cancer diagnosis and survivorship (e.g., treatment decisions, health behaviors in survivorship).

Although several emerging interventions have targeted health behavior change among couples, there is a dearth of evidence on the multilevel and interactive factors that contribute to energy balance behavior in close relationships. Moreover, the biological mechanisms through which energy balance may contribute to overweight/ obesity, multimorbidities, recurrence, and mortality in cancer survivors in the context of interpersonal relationships are not well understood.

In conjunction with efforts led by the Office of Cancer Survivorship, the Behavioral Research Program is interested in supporting and facilitating research focused on understanding how relationships and relationship processes are involved in cancer prevention, particularly with respect to health behavior change and maintenance.

Funding Opportunities

Title Announcement # Expiration Date Contact
Stimulating Innovations in Behavioral Intervention Research for Cancer Prevention and Control

More Information  
PAR-19-309 (R21 Clinical Trial Optional) September 08, 2022 Tanya Agurs-Collins
Intervening with Cancer Caregivers to Improve Patient Health Outcomes and Optimize Health Care Utilization PAR-19-352 (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)
PAR-19-355 (R21 Clinical Trial Optional)
September 08, 2022 Michelle Mollica
Fundamental Mechanisms of Affective and Decisional Processes in Cancer Control (R01 Clinical Trial Optional) PAR-20-034 (R01 Clinical Trial Optional) January 08, 2023 Rebecca Ferrer
Notice of NCI Participation in PAR-22-064, "Patient-Clinician Relationship: Improving Health Outcomes in Populations that Experience Health Care Disparities” NOT-CA-22-048 (R01 Clinical Trial Optional) January 08, 2025 Amanda Acevedo

Sallie J. Weaver
Dyadic Interpersonal Processes and Biopsychosocial Outcomes PAR-21-280 (R01 Basic Experimental Studies with Humans)
PAR-21-281 (R01 Clinical Trials Not Allowed)
May 08, 2023 Rebecca Ferrer
Risk and Protective Factors of Family Health and Family Level Interventions PAR-21-358 (R01 Clinical Trial Optional) May 08, 2025 Rebecca Ferrer


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Last Updated
December 14, 2023