Health Disparities

Many groups—defined by race, ethnicity, immigrant status, disability, sex, gender, income, or geography—experience poorer health outcomes compared with the general population. The NIH supports research to develop evidence-based interventions to reduce these health disparities so that people nationwide have an equal opportunity to live long and healthy lives.

This page includes resources to help you conduct research on health disparities, health equity, and social determinants of health (the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, and play).

From ODP

NIH ADVANCE Initiative: Advancing Prevention Research for Health Equity


The ODP is coordinating ADVANCE: Advancing Prevention Research for Health Equity (PDF) across the NIH. ADVANCE is a research effort that grew out of the ODP’s portfolio analysis of NIH research. In an examination of NIH-funded grants and cooperative agreements between fiscal years 2012 and 2017, the ODP found that only 8.5% of all projects focused on preventing the leading risk factors or causes of death and disability (e.g., poor nutrition, low physical activity, smoking), falling well below their burden on the nation’s health.

An additional analysis of the NIH research portfolio showed that between fiscal years 2016 and 2019, only 3.6% of NIH-funded prevention projects included a randomized intervention to address a leading risk factor for death or disability in populations that experience health disparities. Looking at the NIH research portfolio as a whole, only 0.75% of all NIH-funded research in 2019 included a randomized intervention to prevent the leading risk factors or causes of death and disability in populations that experience health disparities. 

ADVANCE brings together NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices to address this need for additional research. It will concentrate on developing new prevention interventions and strategies to deliver existing evidence-based interventions and preventive services in populations that experience health disparities.

The ODP looks forward to sharing more as the effort evolves.

Pathways to Prevention Workshop: Achieving Health Equity in Preventive Services

This workshop identified evidence gaps and future priorities for research on disparities in the use of clinical services for early detection and prevention of common chronic conditions. You can use the systematic evidence review, independent panel’s report, and federal partners’ action plan to help fill research gaps.

Pathways to Prevention Workshop: Can Physical Activity Improve the Health of Wheelchair Users?

This workshop identified evidence gaps and future priorities for research on physical activity interventions for people who use wheeled mobility devices. Workshop recordings are now available. 

Resources for Researchers

Explore databases and tools for health disparities research.

HDPulse Data Portal

Visualize data and locate information critical to understanding minority health, health disparities, and their determinants. Data are collected from public health surveillance systems by using either their published reports or public use files.

PhenX Toolkit: Social Determinants of Health Collection

The PhenX Toolkit provides recommended standard measures of phenotypes and environmental exposures for use in biomedical research. This collection includes common data elements for research on social determinants of health.

Measurement and Data in Sexual & Gender Minority Health Research

A set of resources for those looking to better understand how to capture sexual and gender minority (SGM) populations in research and clinical settings. Information provided includes data sources, examples of sexual orientation and gender identity questions, and related publications.

Healthy People 2030—Social Determinants of Health

Learn about national efforts to address social determinants of health—including information about current research and resources to develop programs and policies that are informed by evidence on what's effective, replicable, scalable, and sustainable.


Interested in funding opportunities or planning to submit an application in health disparities research? Use these tools to find what you need:

NIH Institutes/Centers and Federal Partner Activities

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) is the NIH component dedicated to health disparities research. Many NIH Institutes and Centers actively engage in and support research related to addressing health disparities and may be helpful starting points as you plan your research or if you’re exploring the latest work in a particular area.

We encourage you to use the links provided to find the most up-to-date information, including how to contact program officials who may be able to address your specific questions.