This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) encourages research with NIH-designated health disparity populations and other vulnerable groups on community interventions to address the adverse psychosocial, behavioral, and socioeconomic effects of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Applications are sought to test: 1) the impacts of mitigation strategies to prevent COVID-19 transmission and acquisition; and 2) already implemented, new, or adapted interventions to address the adverse consequences of the pandemic on the health of these groups.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its associated mitigation strategies are expected to have significant psychosocial, behavioral, socioeconomic, and health impacts, which are exacerbated in populations that experience health disparities and other vulnerable groups. 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).
Tackling the complex drivers of health disparities requires strong partnerships between researchers, community organizations, health service providers, public health agencies, policymakers, and other stakeholders to ensure that relevant, culturally and contextually appropriate research is conducted and, more importantly, that findings can be translated into sustainable community and system-level changes that promote health equity.
Given the urgent need for prevention and mitigation strategies (i.e., physical distancing, wearing face coverings, frequent handwashing, disinfecting surfaces, shelter-in-place, self-isolation upon suspected exposure for 14 days, leaving home only for essential activities, etc.), there is also a need to leverage and scale existing resources and platforms (e.g., health education materials, technology, social and mass media, social support networks, social services) and ongoing mitigation efforts within communities to attenuate adverse outcomes. Moreover, it is also important to evaluate the outcomes of existing interventions and large-scale policies based in community settings that are being or will be implemented regardless of NIH grant funding (i.e., natural experiments). 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 unintended health consequences) may also be needed to address the unique needs of populations.
Key questions include: To what extent do existing interventions slow the spread of COVID-19 in specific populations and geographic hotspots? To what extent do policies, guidelines, and other interventions facilitate adherence and mitigate the multifaceted impacts of COVID-19 on health in populations that experience health disparities and in other vulnerable groups? Can established models of crisis and disaster response and recovery be applied to address the needs of health disparate and other vulnerable populations?
Projects may evaluate existing or ongoing community-based programs or policies (referred to hereafter as natural experiments) or prospectively test new or adapted interventions (referred to as prospective interventions). 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. Projects must focus on health disparity or other COVID-19 vulnerable populations in the U.S. and, where possible, explore moderating factors (e.g., age, sex/gender).
Applications are due December 1, 2020.