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AHCPR seeks research proposals on strategies for eliminating minority health disparities

The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research plans over the next 5 years to establish up to four "centers of excellence" that will identify practical tools and strategies to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in the health care system. The research conducted by these centers will go beyond simply documenting disparities by putting a new emphasis on understanding their underlying causes and developing strategies to eliminate them.

This AHCPR research program is a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' initiative on eliminating racial and ethnic disparities and the U.S. Surgeon General's Healthy People 2010 goal to eliminate disparities in health by the year 2010. Additional information on the Initiative and Healthy People 2010 is available at http://www.raceandhealth.hhs.gov.

AHCPR's research will focus on six clinical areas: infant mortality, cancer screening and management, cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, HIV, and immunizations for both children and adults. The centers will focus on minority children and elderly people who are chronically ill because these groups are particularly vulnerable to the impact of disparities in health care treatment. Another research emphasis will be on clinical preventive services. Minority health services researchers and minority or minority-serving institutions are especially encouraged to apply for these grants.

AHCPR is committed to a long-term investment in research to make substantial contributions to eliminating disparities in health care. The Agency has completed funding of 11 MEDTEP (Medical Treatment Effectiveness Program) Research Centers on Minority Populations throughout the Nation to improve the effectiveness of medical diagnosis and treatment and disseminate information to help both minority patients and their health care providers. More recently, AHCPR has set aside $3 million in research funds to focus on issues of access and quality of care for racial/ethnic minority populations.

The Agency expects that applicants will seek partnerships with change agents—such as payers, policymakers, provider groups, professional groups, and community organizations—in the health care community. These partnerships will help ensure that the research and implementation of findings will have a positive impact on health care practices, policies, and patient outcomes. Applicants are also expected to build on existing linkages with the communities and community organizations and to develop new relationships with those communities to guarantee their needs are being addressed in the research.

The Agency intends to fund two to four grants by September 1, 2000. From the first year's funding level of up to $4.35 million (depending on AHCPR's fiscal year 2000 budget, which was still uncertain at press time), the Agency is setting aside $850,000 for the study of clinical preventive services, $500,000 for the study of minority children, and $500,000 for the study of chronically ill minority elderly. Interested investigators are encouraged to submit letters of intent by December 22, 1999; the deadline for applications is January 21, 2000.

For further details and application instructions, see "Understanding and Eliminating Minority Health Disparities," (RFA HS-00-003) in the October 20, 1999, NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts at http://www.grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-HS-00-003.html and on AHCPR's Web site at http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/. A companion piece, "AHCPR Guidelines for the Research Program Project Grant," is also on AHCPR's Web site at http://www.ahrq.gov/fund/guiderpg.htm. Select AHCPR's Publications Clearinghouse for information on ordering print copies of the Request for Applications (RFA HS-00-003), as well as application forms and instructions.

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