In 2015, 7 of the top 10 causes of death were chronic diseases, according to the CDC, and many disproportionately affect “health disparity populations”: minorities, underserved rural populations, and other disadvantaged groups who generally have lower detection rates, leading to late-stage diagnosis and treatment and worse outcomes.
In response to a need for “more robust, ecological approaches to address chronic diseases” among those groups, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) is launching the Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers (TCC) for Health Disparities Research on Chronic Disease Prevention program.
The program comprises 2 centers of community organizations, academic institutions, clinicians and health care systems, and state and local public health agencies. The 2 centers will share about $20 million to conduct research into community-based, multilevel interventions to combat heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. The emphasis will be on prevention, early detection, and early treatment.
The research programs will “translate community needs into practice” at local clinics, churches, and community centers, says NIMHD. Projects include developing interventions to control hypertension among American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. In another project researchers will apply community-engaged research in Flint, Michigan, investigating the effectiveness of interventions aimed at improving physical activity and healthy food consumption.
The new program “looks beyond individual behavioral risk factors,” NIMHD says, to engage the family, community, health care systems, and policy impacts that affect health. NIMHD Director Dr. Eliseo Pérez-Stable says, “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.”