NIH: NIMHD Seeking Input for Health Disparities Science Vision

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) serves as the focal point for the agency’s conduct of research, research training, capacity-building, and outreach dissemination of minority health and health disparities. NIMHD recently initiated a scientific planning process in collaboration with the NIH institutes and centers designed to define a vision that will guide the development of “the science of health disparities research for the next decade and identify key research areas that should be given high priority because knowledge in those areas might inform translational efforts that could have a significant impact on reducing health disparities.”

To that end, NIMHD has issued a time-sensitive request for information (RFI), Soliciting Input into the NIH Science Vision for Health Disparities Research (NOT-MD-15-006). The Institute is seeking conceptual input regarding the science vision for health disparities research. Comments are being specifically sought regarding key research areas that might address the complexity of the multiple, interacting factors that often generate and perpetuate health disparities.

Research questions identified by NIMHD as important to the science vision process include, but are not limited to:

What are the causes of health disparities?

  • What are the social, ecological, environmental and behavioral pathways, and the biological mechanisms that determinants of health operate upon to influence the health status of health disparity populations?
  • How do different health determinants interact to produce health disparities? How can the complexity be captured while producing scientific information useful to guide policies and practice?

What are the best methods and metrics to study health disparities, their causes, and promising solutions? What measures, analytic approaches, and other methods will advance health disparities science?

  • How should health disparities be measured in general, in physical health, in mental and psychosocial health, and in social health and wellbeing?
  • Who should be the “reference” population in determining health disparities? Who should be compared to whom to measure health disparities? Should the criteria change over time in relation to the demographic and contextual changes, and if so, how?
  • How can we leverage Big Data to determine the causes of health disparities and the pathways and mechanisms through which they operate?
  • What methods should be used to evaluate the success of a health disparity intervention given the challenges often faced?
  • How can we apply a population health systems approach to facilitate an understanding of the etiology of health disparities

What practice and policy interventions show the greatest promise to reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities? What new knowledge is needed to inform effective interventions to address health disparities?

  • What scientific research areas are most critical to study in order to inform pressing practice and policy questions addressing health disparities?
  • What are the periods in the life cycle, timeframes or entry points along developmental trajectories that appear most promising as targets for interventions addressing health disparities across the life course?

What are the dissemination and implementation science approaches that will lead to effective practice and sustained policy intervention to reduce and eventually eliminate health disparities?

  • What criteria should be used to determine whether a health disparities intervention is ready for dissemination and implementation? Can we develop systematic approaches for assessing “Implementation Readiness” of biomedical knowledge and interventions?
  • How do we ensure that interventions are tailored to the needs of various health disparity populations while maintaining adequate fidelity of the intervention in a tested model?

Responses will be accepted through July 31, 2015 and must be submitted electronically to

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Posted in Issue 8 (May 5), Update, Volume 34 (2015)


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