Review and Assessment of the National Institutes of Health's Strategic Research Plan to Reduce and Ultimately Eliminate Health Disparities

Type: Consensus Study
Topics: Biomedical and Health Research, Public Health, Select Populations and Health Equity
Board: Board on Health Sciences Policy

Activity Description

Many U.S. population groups--including racial and ethnic minority groups, such as African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asian Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Pacific Islanders, as well as some geographic and/or socioeconomic groups, such as low-income and rural populations--experience a disproportionately high burden of disease and mortality. 

These disparities prompted Congress in 2000 to pass legislation (P.L. 106-525) creating the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD), which serves as a focal point for planning and coordinating of minority health and other health disparities research.  This legislation also mandated that the NCMHD, working in coordination with the Institutes and Centers (ICs) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) develop a strategic plan for the reduction and ultimate elimination of health disparities.  This plan represents the major priorities and range of activities that NIH will undertake to address health disparities, and as such reflects a guiding vision of how NIH will develop research priorities and expend resources to improve the health status of minorities and other health disparity populations.

The strategic plan identifies and defines the NIH's mission and vision regarding the reduction and ultimate elimination of health disparities, and identifies three major goals (research, research infrastructure, and public information and community outreach), as well as specific objectives within each goal.  Programs to support the strategic plan are outlined by each IC, in coordination with the NCMHD.  While the strategic plan was developed in collaboration with the ICs and with substantial input from the public, professional and patient advocacy groups, health care organizations, academic institutions, and the scientific community, the plan has yet to be independently reviewed to assess how well it addresses research needs of minority and health disparity populations. 

For this reason, NCMHD asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to conduct a study to assess the adequacy of the NIH health disparities strategic plan.   In conducting this activity, the study committee reviewed relevant scientific literature, and conducted public workshops, to ensure that the committee hears the perspectives of community leaders, academic health professions leaders, and other relevant stakeholders. 

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