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AD/ADRD Health Disparities


Health disparities are addressed across the entire BSR AD/ADRD research portfolio. BSR supports research on social determinants of health and individual and population sub-group variation in aging and dementia-related outcomes. Inclusion of study participants from relevant population subgroups in sufficient numbers to conduct health disparities and minority aging investigations is a BSR and NIA priority. BSR supports research on disparities in quality, access, and outcomes of dementia care and the development of dementia care and caregiver support interventions that address the unique needs of different population subgroups. Our cognitive and dementia epidemiology and behavioral and social pathways portfolios aim to understand the social, behavioral, and environmental (including structural) sources of AD/ADRD health disparities and identify causal drivers of differences between groups to inform the design of interventions to address health inequities. Early psychological and functional changes associated with dementia may manifest differently depending on social contexts and available supports; developing appropriate tools to assess changes in cognition and other functions in all population subgroups is a priority. Similarly, we support interventions for prevention of cognitive decline and dementia that include consideration of factors including, but not limited to, social determinants of health, structural racism, race/ethnicity, gender, geographic region, and socioeconomic status. BSR has used several strategies—on its own and in partnership with other divisions—to support research advances in the area of health disparities generally—and specifically in the area of AD/ADRD research—including Requests for Applications (RFAs), administrative supplements, and NIH Guide Notices signaling research priorities.

In 2018, a portfolio analysis of 10 years of BSR-supported health disparities research on topics aligned with the NIA Office of Special Populations health disparities research framework identified 200 unique BSR-supported projects, primarily focused on racial and ethnic disparities. Of these, 86 had an AD or dementia focus. The 2019 National Advisory Council Review of BSR (PDF, 433K) recommended that future research go beyond documenting health disparities and seek to identify the causal drivers of those disparities and develop approaches to ameliorate them. These analyses and recommendations are informing priorities for future research investment in health disparities AD/ADRD research in BSR, for example, by signaling a need to solicit work on priority populations in addition to race/ethnicity, such as socioeconomically disadvantaged, rural populations, those living alone, and sex and gender minority groups.

NIA as a whole is committed to supporting efforts to improve scientific workforce diversity and health disparities research programs. Visit the Scientific Workforce Diversity Programs page for information.

Related AD+ADRD Research Implementation Milestones: 1B, 1D, 2J, 4J

Active Projects as of September 2021: Disparities

Research Programs and Contacts

Health disparities research is represented across both BSR branches and almost all Program Official portfolios. Key contacts are provided below.

Program Contact

Relevant Area(s)

Frank Bandiera

  • Structural racism

Partha Bhattacharyya

  • Disparities in Dementia care

Minki Chatterji

  • Global disparities

Elena Fazio

  • Disparities in dementia care, dementia care workforce

Melissa Gerald

  • AD RCMARS, diversity supplements

Jonathan W. King

  • Disparities in cognitive aging trajectories

Amelia Karraker

  • Education and geographic disparities
  • Family demography and health disparities

Liz Necka

  • Disparities in dementia care and caregiving

Priscilla Novak

  • Health disparities and cost of novel treatments for AD/ADRD
  • Care models and disparities

Janine Simmons

  • Stress processes and early life adversity

Funding Opportunities

Active funding opportunities related to health disparities in AD/ADRD are listed below. In addition, any AD/ADRD-focused application can be submitted to NIA’s parent AD/ADRD R01 and R21 program announcements. For a list of all of BSR’s active funding opportunities, visit our funding opportunities and applicant resources page.

Research Investments

BSR has supported research projects focused on health disparities in AD/ADRD through targeted notices of funding opportunity (NOFOs). Although some of these funding opportunities are no longer active, the topics outlined in the announcements remain priority research areas for BSR. Applications on these topics should be submitted through a relevant active NOFO or through NIA’s parent AD/ADRD R01 and R21 program announcements.

Related Workshops and Reports

Decadal Survey of Behavioral and Social Science Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Dementias, August 14, 2019 - July 8, 2020

2020 National Research Summit on Care, Services, and Supports for Persons with Dementia and their Caregivers, Summer 2020

Expert Meeting on Traditional and Non-traditional Sampling Methods for Population Aging Research on Small Populations, May 6, 2020

Virtual Seminar on Persistent and Large Racial/Ethnic Disparities: Beyond the Role of Socioeconomic Status (SES), May 18, 2020

Expert Meeting on Understanding the Effects of Intersectionality on Sex and Gender Minorities, February 15, 2019

Expert Meeting on Health Disparities Across the Life Cycle, June 23, 2016

The Effect of Education on Recent Dementia Trends: A Look Forward, September 14, 2016

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