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NIH starts health equity research program

Though ComPASS, the National Institute of Health is partnering with local organizations to examine social determinants of health.
By admin
Oct 2, 2023, 8:29 AM

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched the Common Fund Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society (ComPASS) program. Funded with approximately $171 million over the next five years, this initiative will foster community-led research aimed at unearthing sustainable solutions to address the structural factors affecting health within communities. 

ComPASS Program: Community-Driven Research

The initiative is set to fund 26 projects led by various community organizations in partnership with academic institutions and other bodies. These projects will study social determinants of health, or in other words, nonmedical factors like access to healthy food, transportation, and stable housing that significantly impact health outcomes. 

“The ComPASS research model harnesses diverse perspectives and expertise to examine systemic factors that impact the health of individuals, communities, and populations,” said NIH Acting Director Lawrence Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D. in a press release. “We are excited to see how results from these awards exemplify the transformative power of community-driven research.”

The ComPASS program aims to spearhead the design, implementation, and assessment of structural interventions that alter the very fabric of social determinants of health. Projects under the program focus on:

  • Access to nutritious food: Initiatives include delivering food boxes to underserved rural communities and boosting local food harvesting, with goals to ameliorate hunger, diet quality, and chronic disease prevalence like diabetes and heart disease.
  • Childcare strategies for mental health: This project is set to improve access to early childcare and education, aiming to bolster mental health for both children and their guardians in regions with limited childcare resources.
  • Boosting healthcare access through transportation: By offering travel resources and stipends, this project aims to assess if better access to transportation will reduce emergency department readmissions, hospital costs, and improve disease management.
  • Inclusive care for older adults: Focusing on sexual and gender minority populations, this project aims to introduce inclusive protocols to improve overall physical and mental health.
  • Broadband and telehealth enhancement in rural communities: This initiative seeks to assess whether bolstering broadband in rural areas and bolstering telehealth models will have a positive impact on preventative health screenings and health management in agricultural workers.

SDOH data- to power the future

These community-driven projects promise not only immediate interventions but also a wealth of data for NIH. The findings are set to contribute significantly to the expanding reservoir of data on social determinants of health and structural inequities, paving the way for future community-led health research initiatives.


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