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NCCIH Research Blog

New Research Networks To Explore the Science of Emotional Well-Being

February 1, 2021

Emmeline Edwards, Ph.D.

Emmeline Edwards, Ph.D.


Division of Extramural Research

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

View biographical sketch

Merav Sabri, Ph.D.

Merav Sabri, Ph.D.

Program Director

Basic and Mechanistic Research in Complementary and Integrative Health Branch

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

While the world faces a multitude of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, many experts are seeing a concurrent increase in mental health concerns. We are pleased to tell you that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding five new research networks at major academic institutions around the country to further research on emotional well-being. Emotional well-being has been defined as an overall positive state of one’s emotions, life satisfaction, sense of meaning and purpose, and ability to pursue self-defined goals.1

Upon ramping up, the NIH-funded research networks will engage in meetings, conferences, small-scale pilot research, multidisciplinary cross training, and information dissemination. This effort represents a unique opportunity to (1) increase understanding of the fundamental constituents of emotional well-being; (2) examine these constituents as potential intervention targets or outcomes; (3) refine and implement science-based intervention strategies to enhance aspects of emotional well-being; and (4) develop measurement methodologies to optimize and scale up well-being interventions.

With funding provided by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and the National Institute on Aging and cofunding for select networks from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, and the NIH Office of Disease Prevention, it is evident that interest in emotional well-being research spans multiple disciplines. As such, we are interested in seeing what emotional well-being looks like in different subpopulations and at varying developmental stages. Furthermore, the networks are spread across the United States, providing needed geographic diversity.

The launch of these networks follows an NIH roundtable discussion in April 2018, Emotional Well-Being: Emerging Insights and Questions for Future Research, which led to a request for applications that focused on developing resources to refine and test key concepts that will advance and further support the study of emotional well-being. In December 2019, NCCIH took part in the issuance of a request for applications, Emotional Well-Being: High-Priority Research Networks, which utilized the U24 cooperative agreement funding mechanism. The U24 is a resource development and planning mechanism in which interdisciplinary teams form to grow and develop research on specific priority areas.

As we have previously written, the field of emotional well-being aligns with stakeholder and government interest in improving wellness and increasing resilience. Although the idea to expand research into emotional well-being came about prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe it has a special resonance now.

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1 Community Translational Science Team. Building a Public Health Model for Promoting Emotional Well-Being. Los Angeles: University of California Los Angeles. 2016.

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