The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines health disparities as the "differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and burden of diseases and other adverse health conditions that exist among specific population groups in the United States." Accumulated data now shows that frequently noted disparities are those between ethnic, racial, and income groups. However other factors also determine health outcomes and include age, disability, gender, geographic location, ability to speak English and other social, environmental and psychological factors. Even policies governing violence - domestic, gun and gang, which is very prevalent in our target area - have a fairly significant impact on disparities. The NIMHD is committed to the challenge of closing the gap in health care across social, ethnic, and racial groups in the U.S. To assist NIMHD in achieving this goal, the Health Research Policy Consortium (HPRC) project will establish Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers (TCCs) that draw upon regional coalitions of academic institutions, community organizations, providers, and government to focus on priority research. The approach includes the following: (1) Establish regular channels of communication with stakeholders. (2) Oversee patient acquisition. (3) Leverage the power of Information Communication and Technology. (4) Identify specific metrics for the chosen disease area. (5) Regularly conduct periodic meetings and produce outcome analysis. (6) Report and upload the results to NIMHD for Congress. The TCCs will provide the practical steps on how evidence for addressing health disparities could be translated into practice, thus bridging the gap between surveillance and healthcare delivery and policy outcomes. The TCCs will focus on Prince George's County (PG County), MD, in particular, and will also broaden its scope to the Tri-state - DMV (DC, MD, VA) within Region III (VA, MD, DC, DE, PA, and WV). Cardiac Heart Diseases (CHD) is a chronic condition among the affected population groups in the region and is the disease area the TCC will study first. As a microcosm of the larger American landscape the areas will provide the TCC with diverse communities that have higher rates of morbidity and mortality across a broad range of disease conditions. The Pilot program is representative of American urban areas and, as such, will allow the pilot to be easily ported as a sustainable model with high predictive reliability across other high minority urban areas.
The HPRC project will establish TCCs to examine how health policies impede the access of ethnic and racial minorities to adequate and affordable health care. The TCCs will do this by first researching CHD in PG County, leveraging Information Technology to gather valuable data with the cooperation of community-based groups and healthcare providers. The TCCs will then make policy recommendations that will foster the reduction and elimination of disparities in health care.