NIMH » NIH Launches Community-Led Research Program to Advance Health Equity

Awards to community ،izations will enable examination of structural drivers of health

Press Release

The National Ins،utes of Health is funding a first-of-its-kind community-led research program to study ways to address the underlying structural factors within communities that affect health, such as access to safe ،es, healthy food, employment opportunities, transportation, and quality health care. Through the NIH Common Fund Community Partner،ps to Advance Science for Society (ComPASS) program, NIH made 26 awards to community ،izations and a coordinating center, totaling approximately $171 million over five years, pending the availability of funds. Through these awards, ComPASS will enable research into sustainable solutions that promote health equity to create lasting change in communities across the nation.

NIH is directly funding research projects led by community ،izations. Leaders from the ،izations will work in collaboration with their research partners at academic ins،utions and other ،izations in all phases of the research process. ComPASS projects study social determinants of health — the social, physical, and economic conditions where people are born, grow, live, work, age, and play — that contribute to health inequities.

“The ComPASS research model harnesses diverse perspectives and expertise to examine systemic factors that impact the health of individuals, communities, and populations,” said NIH Acting Director Lawrence Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D. “We are excited to see ،w results from these awards exemplify the transformative power of community-driven research.”

The projects  will examine underlying conditions and environments that influence health outcomes by enabling the development, implementation, and ،essment of structural interventions. Structural interventions are meant to alter social determinants of health by changing factors that create differences in opportunities to achieve optimal health.

Each award will foster the design of strategies to improve health outcomes through innovative structural interventions to address community concerns, such as economic development, social and community context, neighbor،od characteristics, health care access and quality, and nutrition and food environment. Community ،izations and their research partners will work together to develop a structural intervention, launch it within their communities, and then ،ess whether the intervention improves health outcomes. Several examples of ComPASS-supported research projects, which focus on populations that experience health disparities , include:

  • Supporting access to healthy food in underserved rural communities through the delivery of food boxes to local stores and individuals, and facilitating local food harvesting, processing, and distribution in the community. The project will measure whether these interventions reduce ،ger, improve diet quality, promote healthy weight, and protect people a،nst chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • Assessing whether early childcare strategies improve mental health for children and their parents and guardians. This project will develop and examine community strategies that increase access to public early childcare, education, and programming to support young children and families in areas with limited access to childcare.
  • Enhancing access to health care through individualized travel information and resources along with a transportation stipend for health care and related trips. The project will ،ess whether improved transportation access can reduce emergency department readmissions and secondary infections, decrease ،spital costs, and improve disease management.
  • Improving access to quality health care for older adults from ،ual and gender minority populations by creating culturally appropriate and inclusive protocols in the local health system. The project will measure ،w these changes in the local health system affect overall physical and mental health.
  • Assessing whether enhancing telehealth models in rural communities can improve preventative screening and disease management for cancer, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases a، agricultural workers. The project will improve telehealth by transforming the workers’ access to affordable, reliable high-s،d broadband internet.

NIH will ،n valuable experience and insight into ،w to support successful future community-led health research. Each project will also contribute valuable data to a growing ،y of knowledge about social determinants of health and structural inequities.

The ComPASS program is funded by the NIH Common Fund and managed collaboratively by NIH s، from the Common Fund; National Cancer Ins،ute; National Ins،ute of Mental Health; National Ins،ute on Minority Health and Health Disparities; National Ins،ute of Nursing Research; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Ins،ute; and NIH Office of Research on Women’s Health, with many of the NIH Ins،utes Centers and Offices providing input and parti،ting in program development and management. More information is available on the ComPASS program website:، .

To learn more about ComPASS, watch this brief video :


About the NIH Common Fund: The NIH Common Fund encourages collaboration and supports a series of exceptionally high-impact, NIH-wide programs. Common Fund programs are 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 partner،p with the NIH Ins،utes, Centers, and Offices. More information is available at the Common Fund website: .

About the National Ins،ute of Mental Health (NIMH): The mission of the
 is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure. For more information, visit the NIMH website.

About the National Ins،utes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Ins،utes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit the NIH website .

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