Grant projects to focus on community interventions to reduce health disparities with COVID-19

June 11, 2020

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is looking for application for grant projects that focus on one or more NIH-designated populations that experience health disparities in the United States, or a population identified as vulnerable to COVID-19 infection, hospitalization or mortality.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated mitigation strategies are expected to have significant psychosocial, behavioral, and socioeconomic impacts on health, which are exacerbated in populations that experience health disparities and other vulnerable groups, leading to disproportionately adverse consequences. Those experiencing health disparities prior to the COVID-19 pandemic are at increased risk of infection and other COVID-19 related consequences (e.g., job loss, unpaid leave, lost wages).

COVID-19 vulnerable populations include:

Residents of chronic care and assisted living facilities; community-dwelling older adults; individuals with cognitive impairment or dementia; homeless populations; incarcerated populations and those involved with the criminal justice system (e.g., participants of re-entry programs); adults with medical comorbidities; pregnant women; children and adolescents; individuals with substance use disorders or severe mental illness, those living in congregate housing (e.g., shelters, residential treatment or assisted living); persons who are deaf or with disabilities including visual, hearing, communication, or mobility impairment; detainees in immigration centers; migrant communities; individuals living on tribal lands or reservations; and communities that are exposed to high rates of air pollution or other toxic exposures.

Vulnerable groups also include those on the frontlines of healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic, and those working in essential business operations (e.g., grocery and pharmacy workers, transportation, hospital and community janitorial/sanitation workers, waste collectors, postal and other delivery services, warehouse personnel, etc.).

Multilevel intervention includes:

An intervention at two or more levels of influence, including policy (governing bodies or others who establish policies, rules, or guidelines), community (a group of people living in a defined geographic area or having particular characteristics in common, structural, and/or environmental determinants of health), organizational (large healthcare systems, community health clinics, public health organizations, community-based organizations, social services, schools, workplaces, other service providers, etc.), interpersonal (e.g., communication, social supports, relationships with others), and individual (e.g., community residents, employees, caregivers, family members, providers;).

Research is needed to test community interventions focused on the prevention (or slowing) of COVID-19 transmission, evaluate local and state policies and programs intended to mitigate COVID-19 exposure and improve adherence, and reduce the negative impact of the multifaceted consequences on the health of populations who experience health disparities and other vulnerable groups. This work may include leveraging and scaling existing resources (e.g., health education materials, technology, social media, mass media, social support networks, social services). In domains and populations in which the evidence base is limited, the development, testing, and implementation of novel or adapted interventions to address the negative health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic (including the unintended health consequences of population-level interventions) may also be needed to address the unique needs of populations.

Projects may evaluate existing or ongoing community-based programs or policies (i.e., natural experiments), or prospectively test new or adapted interventions. Multilevel interventions that do not solely target individuals, but also address the upstream determinants that influence individual functioning and health outcomes are strongly encouraged. Projects should be designed to test hypotheses about mechanisms of action that account for an intervention’s effects; mechanisms may operate at any level of analysis.

Research topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

·       Mitigation strategies in populations who experience health disparities and other vulnerable groups

·        Local or state policy interventions to mitigate COVID-19 exposures and their impact on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, or deaths

·        Potential unintended consequences of local or state policy interventions related to COVID-19, such as barriers to seeking or receiving appropriate healthcare; lack of access to affordable medications, health and cleaning products; unintentional overdose or poisonings related to promoted treatments or mitigation strategies; harm caused by self-administered and non-evidence based treatments; or psychosocial distress, or victimization related to COVID-19 related stigma and discrimination

·        Local or state governmental and non-governmental programs to provide educational outreach and/or resources to promote adherence to mitigation strategies

·        Behavioral or health communication interventions to promote understanding of and adherence to mitigation recommendations

·        Communication interventions aimed at providing accurate and reliable information (or dispelling misinformation) to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19

·        Innovative technologies to promote protective/preventive behaviors across individual and community contexts

·        Culturally and linguistically appropriate interventions to promote adherence to mitigation strategies within the home, including addressing structural or interpersonal factors that may make adherence difficult (e.g., lack of running water, overcrowded housing, exposure to indoor air pollution, child abuse, intimate partner or family violence)

·        Structural and behavioral interventions to reduce risk of infection in public or social settings, such as educational, criminal justice, work, recreational, behavioral health, or faith-based settings, on public transportation, and multi-media platforms

·        Evaluating community interventions (existing, new, or adapted) to ameliorate the negative health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in heath disparity and other vulnerable populations

·        Local or state policies, or organizational practices, to reduce the psychosocial and health consequences related to COVID-19

·        Effects, sustainability, and scalability of behavioral interventions (e.g., social media, digital approaches, social support systems)

·        Addressing food insecurity, home environmental exposures, lack of physical activity, poor sleep, social isolation, or mental health or emotional wellbeing concerns related to mitigation strategies (e.g., stay at home orders, school closures)

·        Reducing distress and adverse health behaviors (e.g., smoking, excessive alcohol use, substance misuse, risky sexual behavior, violence, inadequate sleep, sedentary behavior, etc.) associated with COVID-19 related life changes

·        Helping families, and organizations cope with COVID-19-related caregiving stress, illness, death, and bereavement

·        Addressing COVID-19-related posttraumatic stress symptoms among first responders and human services providers and their families (e.g., Psychological First Aid or Skills for Psychological Recovery)

·        Promoting self-management of pre-existing chronic physical or mental health conditions and appropriate linkage to healthcare services

·        Practice-based research on state and community interventions to prevent suicide and suicide attempts

Applicants should show that their methods are appropriate given their plans for assignment of participants and delivery of interventions. Additional information is available at

NIH has the release.

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