- Published on May 30, 2012
- Contact Jared Wadley
ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Monitoring the Future, one of the largest and longest-running studies of American youth, as well as of college students and young adults, will receive a $35 million award to continue for another five years.
"Monitoring the Future: A Continuing Study of the Lifestyles and Values of American Youth" is conducted annually at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. It began 37 years ago with funding from the White House and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (part of the National Institutes of Health) and has received continuation funding from NIDA since then.
Because this is an investigator-initiated research project, the investigators must submit renewal proposals every five years, which are then evaluated by a committee of their peers.
"Every five years we do our best to make the case that this scientific study is worth its considerable cost, but to some degree it's a crapshoot because of the way reviewers are chosen," said Lloyd Johnston, the study's principal investigator. "Every committee has a different composition. Further, the competition for research monies is severe."
The new awards will total $35 million, making Monitoring the Future one of the largest—if not the largest—investigator-initiated research studies supported by any of the NIH institutes.
The collaborative team that conducts the study, in addition to Johnston, consists of Jerald Bachman, Patrick O'Malley, John Schulenberg and Megan Patrick—all U-M research professors in the Survey Research Center at ISR. Also participating are researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State University and Columbia University.
Monitoring the Future is best known for its studies of smoking, drinking and drug use of many types among secondary school students, but it covers a large number of other subjects. Some 47,000 students are surveyed annually at about 400 secondary schools nationally, and the results are reported and used widely.
The study also has tracked substance use among the nation's college students for more than 30 years, as well as among young adults the same age who do not attend college. And each high school senior class since 1976 has been followed over the years by means of mailed surveys—the oldest class now reaching age 55.
"Having longitudinal data across much of the life span on repeated class cohorts drawn from the normal population is very rare—perhaps unique—and such data are extremely valuable for answering a great many research questions," Johnston said. "We hope that this study will be a national institution which continues beyond the careers of the current investigators, several of whom actually started it 37 years ago."