NICHD STRIVE for Change

Some Ideas for Sustained Change

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The feedback provided highlights some key changes that are important for advancing health disparities, such as highlight lived experiences, investing in qualitative research, and the importance of engaging with communities in which we are trying to mitigate health disparities. Happy to further explain any ideas!

1. What obstacles impede advancing health disparities research for NICHD populations?

A major obstacle that impedes advancing health disparities research is the lack of diversity in researchers funded and/or who review for NICHD. Although, more importantly this change has to begin from the inside out. The NICHD workforce itself also has to be compromised of individuals from diverse backgrounds, who are invested in pushing change in health disparities. Individuals on the inside must be reflective of the advancement of health disparities that NICHD hopes to produce. It is very hard to fund and push research agendas that address health disparities when your own workforce does not have the lived experience of living or knowing what those health disparities and how they impact their local communities. These individuals with lived experiences are the ones that can educate others without the lived experiences who are also invested and have the privilege to be in positions of power.

2.What innovative or novel approaches to research could be leveraged to mitigate health disparities in NICHD populations?

I think it is time we begin to value the importance of qualitative research and elevate the value of lived experiences with research approaches. One way to mitigate health disparities is investing in research that allows researchers to spend time getting to know communities affected by health inequities and also learning not only about the disparities but about the strengths that communities possess. There is still a strong narrative among health disparities research that as researchers "we must come in save communities" and that is not the case. Despite the challenges communities of color of face, they have still been able to be successful with what they have, we need to invest more in qualitative research (focus groups, case studies, interviews, etc.) to understand strategies that are working among communities and build upon their foundation, instead of assuming that as researchers we know what is best or how to best solve whatever issues "we think" these communities face.

3. What are the best opportunities to broaden community engagement in the research process?

1. Translating research into to easy to understand terms, as well translating into languages other than English if applicable 

2. Pushing a cultural shift where researchers are not only invested in collecting data for their own success, but also for the success of the community itself 

3. Funding opportunities where researchers can spend time engaging and learning from the communities they are working it, and making it a requirement that part of their funds have to go back to the community in some way 

4. It is important to include community stakeholders on review panels of research so they have a say in the research that is being funded, especially it is going to take place in their own community 

5. Principal investigators should be required to have a community stakeholder be a part of their research team and this individual should be compensated for their time 

6. Research articles that go into PubMed should be required to include a 1 pager that summarizes the research in plain language as if it were going to be dispersed within a community

4. What are some examples of community engagement models to strengthen health disparities research efforts (such as models for partnerships, collaboration)?

I am not aware of many, but if you are not familiar with the integrative model for the study of minority youth,  it as a starting point: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.1996.tb01834.x

It is a great place to start to understand about different things that contribute to studying development, especially among marginalized populations.

5. What resources (e.g., tools, technology, human capital) are needed to advance the field of health disparities research for NICHD populations?

This is a question we should be asking our communities directly, what do they need from us researchers to help them lead healthier lives. 

Here are some ideas of my own:

1. Funding to set up community centers that could provide resources and services, as part of research agendas.

2. Having NICHD staff engage in their own education about how to shift the field

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Idea No. 179