NIH launches community-led research program to advance health equity

news release

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Awards to community organizations enable us to examine the structural causes of health.

The National Institutes of Health is supporting this type of research, which studies ways to address the underlying structural factors within communities that impact health, such as access to safe spaces, healthy diets, employment opportunities, and transportation. is funding the first community-led research program. and high quality medical care. Through the NIH Common Fund Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society (ComPASS) program, NIH will award 26 awards totaling approximately $171 million over five years to community organizations and coordinating centers, pending funding availability. provided. Through these awards, ComPASS enables research into sustainable solutions that advance health equity and create lasting change in communities across the country.

NIH directly funds research projects led by community organizations. Institutional leaders work collaboratively with research partners from academic institutions and other organizations at every stage of the research process. The ComPASS project studies the social determinants of health that contribute to health inequalities: the social, physical, and economic conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, age, and play. .

“The ComPASS research model leverages diverse perspectives and expertise to investigate systemic factors that influence the health of individuals, communities, and populations,” said Dr. Lawrence Tabak, Acting Director of the NIH. DDS says. “We look forward to seeing how the results of these awards demonstrate the transformative power of community-driven research.”

This project investigates the underlying conditions and environments that influence health outcomes by enabling the development, implementation, and evaluation of structural interventions. Structural interventions aim to change the social determinants of health by changing the factors that create differences in opportunities to achieve optimal health.

Each award aims to improve health outcomes through innovative structural interventions that address community concerns such as economic development, social and community conditions, neighborhood characteristics, access and quality of health care, nutrition and the food environment. Facilitate the design of strategies to improve. Community organizations and their research partners work together to develop structured interventions, launch them in communities, and evaluate whether the interventions improve health outcomes. Examples of ComPASS-supported research projects focused on people experiencing health disparities include:

  • Supporting access to healthy food in underserved and rural areas through the delivery of food boxes to local stores and individuals, and supporting the harvesting, processing and distribution of local food within the community. Promote. This project will measure whether these interventions reduce hunger, improve diet quality, promote healthy weight, and protect people from chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • Assessing whether early parenting strategies improve the mental health of children and their parents/guardians. This project will develop and examine community strategies to increase access to public early childhood care, education, and programming to support young children and families in areas with limited access to child care.
  • Strengthen access to health care through personalized travel information and resources, and transportation subsidies for medical and related travel. The project will evaluate whether improved transportation access can reduce emergency department readmissions and secondary infections, reduce hospital costs, and improve disease management.
  • Ensuring sexual and gender minority older adults have access to quality health care by creating culturally appropriate and inclusive protocols in local health systems. This project will measure how these changes in local health systems impact overall physical and mental health.
  • Assess whether strengthening telehealth models in rural areas can improve preventive screening and disease management for cancer, depression, diabetes, hypertension, and other chronic diseases among farmworkers. This project will improve telehealth by giving workers access to affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband internet.

NIH will gain valuable experience and insight into how to successfully conduct future community-driven health research. Each project will also contribute valuable data to the growing body of knowledge on social determinants of health and structural inequalities.

The ComPASS program is funded by the NIH Common Fund and jointly managed by the Common Fund’s NIH staff. National Cancer Institute. National Institute of Mental Health; National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities; National Institute of Nursing Research; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. A number of NIH Institute centers and offices provide input and participate in program development and management. For more information, please visit the ComPASS program website at

To learn more about ComPASS, watch this short video:

About the NIH Common Fund: The NIH Common Fund encourages collaboration and supports a range of highly impactful programs across the NIH. The Common Fund Program is managed by the Office of Strategic Coordination in the Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives in the NIH Office of the Director, in collaboration with NIH institutes, centers, and offices. For more information, visit the Common Fund website at

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH):The nation’s medical research agency, NIH, has 27 institutes and centers and is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency that conducts and supports basic, clinical, and translational medical research, investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, please visit

NIH…Turning discovery into health®


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