Finding Answers Awards More Than $1.5 Million to Evaluate Interventions Aimed at Reducing Gaps in Health Care Among U.S. Racial and Ethnic Groups

    • October 19, 2009

Finding Answers: Disparities Research for Change, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) at the University of Chicago, is awarding more than $1.5 million to seven organizations that are working to eliminate racial and ethnic health care disparities in their communities.

Each of the final seven grant recipients will receive up to $258,500 to evaluate their proposed interventions aimed at reducing disparities in the health outcomes of patients in their communities. Grantees will focus on cardiovascular disease, depression and diabetes; diseases where evidence of racial and ethnic disparities in care is strong and the recommended standards of care are clear.

“These grantees will work with the health care community to identify successful approaches to reducing racial and ethnic disparities in health care,” said Marshall H. Chin, M.D., M.P.H., professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, Department of Medicine and the Center for Health and the Social Sciences, as well as the director of the Finding Answers program. “The interventions being evaluated as part of this program have been selected for their potential to be replicated and sustained in communities throughout the United States.”

A total of 111 project proposals were received from health care leaders around the country—including hospitals, community health centers and universities. These projects each proposed efforts to evaluate a wide range of interventions, some of which involved patient-directed financial incentives, automated reminder systems for doctors and building community partnerships. Together, they provided a snapshot of current efforts around the country to reduce racial and ethnic disparities.

Decades of research show that certain racial and ethnic groups in the United States receive lower-quality care. Without better knowledge about practical steps to reduce disparities in care, health care organizations are often unable to address these documented gaps. Research indicates most efforts to date have led to limited improvements in reducing the gaps in care Americans receive.

“Through the efforts of these Finding Answers grantees, we are identifying successful ways to ensure that all Americans receive the care they deserve," said John R. Lumpkin, M.D., M.P.H., senior vice president and director of the Health Care Group at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The results of these seven grants and the 21 that were awarded during the first two rounds of funding will help Finding Answers and RWJF understand what works—or does not work—to improve health care for minority patients. At the end of their projects, the grantees will provide detailed information on whether the intervention improved health outcomes, how the intervention was implemented, and what the start-up and maintenance costs were. Finding Answers will evaluate those results and then inform health care stakeholders—doctors, nurses, hospitals and health plans—about promising interventions that show the ability to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care.

The seven new grant recipients are:

  • Aaron E. Henry Community Health Services, Inc., Mississippi
  • Boston Medical Center, Massachusetts
  • Brigham and Women's Hospital, Massachusetts
  • CIGNA HealthCare Mid-Atlantic, Georgia
  • Denver Health and Hospitals Foundation, Colorado
  • Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts
  • The Fund for Public Health in New York, New York

This is the third round of funding RWJF has awarded through the Finding Answers initiative.

Finding Answers: Disparities Research for Change, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation at the University of Chicago, awards and manages research grants totaling $7 million to health care organizations implementing interventions aimed at reducing disparities. The funds are used to evaluate the interventions and their potential for real world implementation. This initiative encourages health plans, hospitals, and community clinics to focus on racial and ethnic disparities as a priority in their quality improvement agendas.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.