By: The University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR)
Thursday, July 23, 2009
ANN ARBOR, Mich.---The University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR) is one of a consortium of four research institutions selected to carry out the largest study to date of suicide and mental health among military personnel. With $50 million in funding from the U.S. Army, the new study is a collaborative program of research that will also involve scientists from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the U.S. Army.
"The goal of this five-year study is to identify modifiable risk and protective factors related to suicidal behavior and to provide a scientific basis for guiding the Army's ongoing efforts to prevent suicide and improve Soldiers' overall psychological health and functioning," says ISR research scientist Steven Heeringa, who is the U-M principal investigator on the study. Heeringa directs the Statistical Design Group in the ISR Survey Research Center.
Since 2001, the suicide rate for Soldiers has climbed, reaching record levels in 2007 and again in 2008 despite major prevention and intervention efforts by the Army over this period.
ISR's role in this collaborative study will be to design and conduct several large-scale survey data collections and to build and manage the study research databases in a way that protects the identity and privacy of Army personnel. For the project, ISR will survey 90,000 active Army personnel representative of the entire Army, including active members of the National Guard and Reserves, in order to obtain information on the prevalence of suicide-related behavior, as well as risk and protective factors. In addition to obtaining behavioral information, ISR will also obtain saliva and blood samples for genetic and biologic analyses.
ISR will also survey all 80,000 to 120,000 recruits who join the Army in each of the first three years of the study.
The research team will also conduct a case-controlled retrospective study, comparing information on soldiers who have attempted or completed suicide with those who have not.
The study is the result of an agreement between the Army and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The lead Principal Investigator is Robert Ursano, M.D., at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD. In addition to U-M, consortium members are Harvard Medical School (Ronald Kessler, PhD) and Columbia University (John Mann, MD).
In addition to Heeringa, the following U-M researchers are affiliated with the project: psychologist Christopher Peterson, survey research experts Mick Couper, Nancy Gebler, Beth-Ellen Pennell and Trivellore Raghunathan, and data archivist Peter Granda.
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Established in 1949, the Institute for Social Research (ISR) is among the world's oldest survey research organizations, and a world leader in the development and application of social science methodology. ISR conducts some of the most widely-cited studies in the nation, including the Survey of Consumer Attitudes, the National Election Studies, the Monitoring the Future Study, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the Health and Retirement Study, the Columbia County Longitudinal Study and the National Survey of Black Americans. ISR researchers also collaborate with social scientists in more than 60 nations on the World Values Surveys and other projects, and the Institute has established formal ties with universities in Poland, China, and South Africa. ISR is also home to the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the world’s largest computerized social science data archive. Visit the ISR Web site at http://www.isr.umich.edu
for more information.