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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Health Disparity Population

An important update to a September 16 post.

Amanda Morris at WP:
For years, the National Institutes of Health has funded research on health inequities faced by racial, gender and other underserved communities. But one notable group was left out: people with disabilities.
Now, in a major victory for disability health advocates, the NIH announced today that it has designated people with disabilities as a “health disparity population.”

The term, which is used to describe a disadvantaged group that experiences preventable differences in health, dramatically expands access to funding and resources for studying and helping disabled populations. The NIH is the largest single public funder of biomedical research in the world.

Disability advocates say the change reflects an ongoing shift in medicine from trying to “fix” or cure disabled people toward viewing them more holistically, as a demographic group with its own unique socioeconomic challenges.

“This is a big deal,” said Peter W. Thomas, co-coordinator of the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Coalition, which focuses on improving disability research. “This is going to focus more attention on getting people with disabilities the care they need and hopefully result in better outcomes for people with disabilities across the board.”

Earlier this month, the National Advisory Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities recommended against the move, citing concerns over the lack of a standardized definition for disability and the broad nature of the disability population which they said could overwhelm existing staff and budgeting at the NIH. However, there was immediate pushback from hundreds of disability organizations, advocates, researchers and health-care professionals and the council did not include that recommendation in their final report, which did not take a position on a designation.