Friday, November 18, 2016

Cross-Cutting Research -- Integrating Knowledge Across Domains


In a recent C-FAHR symposium, we discussed an article called:

Integrating knowledge across domains to advance the science of health behavior: overcoming challenges and facilitating success  by Klein, W.M..P., Grenen, E.G., O’Connell, M. et al. Behav. Med. Pract. Policy Res. (2016). doi:10.1007/s13142-016-0433-5


Health behaviors often co-occur and have common determinants at multiple levels (e.g., individual, relational, environmental). Nevertheless, research programs often examine single health behaviors without a systematic attempt to integrate knowledge across behaviors. This paper highlights the significant potential of cross-cutting behavioral research to advance our understanding of the mechanisms and causal factors that shape health behaviors. It also offers suggestions for how researchers could develop more effective interventions. We highlight barriers to such an integrative science along with potential steps that can be taken to address these barriers. With a more nuanced understanding of health behavior, redundancies in research can be minimized, and a stronger evidence base for the development of health behavior interventions can be realized.
Following a brief discussion of the article, we highlighted research from two of our colleagues -- Lisa Aspinwall and Yelena Wu -- who are looking at the behaviors associated with melanoma, the barriers that people perceived to practicing sun-safe behaviors, and potential interventions aimed at decreasing the risk of melanoma by increasing the use of sun-safe health behaviors.  We used these two research examples as a starting point to think about how research in one area might be applicable to other health behaviors and health outcomes, and how methods and findings from other domains may be used to streamline the development of interventions.  Click here for the slides and a video recording of the session:   
One of the goals of C-FAHR is to think about how to bring together teams of researchers to answer larger questions about health of families.  Given this discussion, one promising direction for us to pursue is the similarity (and difference) of family-based health processes across multiple chronic conditions.  As the article states, we imagine that we have much to learn from integrating our knowledge across health domains, rather than replicating our results and duplicating our efforts by studying only one illness domain.  For example, what we learn from diabetes may be easily applied to what we want to know about cancer, and vice versa.  If you would like to be part of this conversation and explore the formation of a working group aimed at studying multiple chronic conditions, please leave a comment below or contact Becky ( or Cindy (  

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