NIH Creates Program to Combat Chronic Disease Care Disparity

National Institutes of Health to implement a plan to combat chronic diseases in disparate health populations.

The National Institutes of Health recently announced plans to launch a new research program to better understand the burden of chronic diseases associated with health disparity.

The Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers (TCC) for Health Disparities Research on Chronic Disease Prevention program will be launched by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD).

The program will respond to a need for new approaches to address chronic diseases among:

  • racial/ethnic minorities
  • rural populations
  • lower-income patients
  • groups whose poor health outcomes are associated with discrimination and social disadvantage

There will be 2 centers that focus research efforts on developing, implementing, and disseminating a community-based, multilevel intervention, according to a press release from NIH. The interventions created will combat costly chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

The 2 centers will share $20 million in funding over 5 years, the NIH reported.

“Multilevel interventions that take into account complex interactions between individuals and their environments can better address determinants of health and enhance chronic disease prevention and health promotion for local communities,” said NIMHD Director Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, MD. “Studies in these centers will add to our knowledge of what works in health disparities populations, thus advancing knowledge towards our nation’s health.”

Where patients live, work, and spend leisure time, can significantly impact the development of chronic diseases. Prevalence of obesity and hypertension are both significantly higher among African Americans and Latinos than Whites.

Adults living below the poverty level, or who do not have a high school degree, are more likely to smoke cigarettes than adults living at, or above the poverty level. Also, women who live in low- or middle-income households are less likely to receive a mammogram than women from higher-income households.

Individuals from these health disparity populations and others are much more likely to have low detection rates of chronic diseases, which leads to later-stage diagnosis and treatment that impacts disease outcomes, according to the NIH.

The program’s goal is to increase collaboration between stakeholders to create and implement interventions that can be effective in real-world settings. Included in the program will be community organizations, academic institutions, clinicians, healthcare systems, and state and local public health agencies.

These interventions will be put into practice in clinics, churches, and community centers.

“Involving different stakeholders and ensuring community engagement, the new TCC program will create synergized methods to build a healthy community for health disparity populations” said Xinzhi Zhang, MD, PhD, NIMHD program officer.