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Examining the Health Disparities Research Plan of the National Institutes of Health: Unfinished Business.


Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on the Review and Assessment of the NIH’s Strategic Research Plan and Budget to Reduce and Ultimately Eliminate Health Disparities; Thomson GE, Mitchell F, Williams MB, editors.


Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2006.
The National Academies Collection: Reports funded by National Institutes of Health.


Although the overall health of Americans has improved considerably over the past several decades, the health of racial and ethnic minorities and other populations continues to lag behind that of whites. For decades, there have been declarations identifying correction of health disparities as a national priority but progress has been slow, and the suffering, disability, and death continue. If the gaps between populations persist and some minority populations continue to grow disproportionately, within several decades most Americans will be members of populations at risk for disparate health. Improving the situation requires much better understanding of health disparities. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has supported and conducted extensive research related to minority health and health disparities. The NIH health disparities research effort was addressed by Congress with the “Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act of 2000.” Among its provisions, the legislation called for establishing the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD) with two broad areas of responsibility: first, administration of extensive grants and awards aimed at strengthening the country’s personnel and institutional capacities to conduct research on minority health and health disparities; and second, coordination of all health disparities research across NIH together with oversight of the development and implementation of an NIH-wide strategic plan for health disparities research. NCMHD was established in 2000 and, in 2004, asked the Institute of Medicine to assess the adequacy and coordination of the Strategic Plan that had been developed. The study committee began the review late in 2004 with completion targeted for late 2005.

Copyright © 2006, National Academy of Sciences.

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