Social determinants of health–the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age–shape individual and population health and wellbeing across the life course, and include a broad range of factors such as access to safe housing, affordable healthy food, potable water, green space, clean air, and supportive social networks. These health determinants are in turn shaped by wider forces including economics, social policies, politics and personal and community beliefs and value systems. Unequal distribution of health-promoting social determinants across various populations is increasingly understood as a significant contributor to persistent and pervasive health disparities. A focus on health equity calls for addressing determinants of health that put health disparity populations and vulnerable communities at a disadvantage for achieving positive health outcomes.
Within the context of social determinants of health, “environmental determinants” stand out as critical for improving minority health and reducing or preventing health disparities because they are amenable to intervention and prevention strategies. The term ‘‘environmental determinants’’ encompasses the social environment, built environment, and physical environment, often referred to collectively as the “exposome.” Environmental influences are not limited to natural amenities and exposures to physical, chemical, or biological agents; equally important are the interactions between those factors and social and economic stressors, institutional processes and health-promoting factors.
Evidence suggests that health disparity populations generally experience higher levels of cumulative exposure to adverse social factors such as poverty, lower-quality education, less access to healthy food, chronic and acute psychosocial stress and lifelong patterns of discrimination, in addition to physical, biological and chemical environmental hazards. Conversely, access to the positive effects of the natural environment (e.g., green space), such as opportunities for health-enhancing physical activity and buffering against hazardous exposures, is often disproportionately lower in these populations. Public and environmental health interventions, urban planning and public education programs are recognized approaches that can be used to achieve health and environmental equity and potentially create healthier and safer environments for everyone.
Existing programs established independently and jointly by the NIMHD and the NIEHS have fostered collaboration across disciplines and enabled multidisciplinary teams of community and academic experts from diverse backgrounds to conduct research and training on environmental health disparities. Building on those efforts, NIMHD and NIEHS are issuing this joint research program to stimulate research on environmental health disparities.
For the purpose of this FOA, ‘‘environmental health disparities’’ are defined as inequities in health and illnesses mediated by disproportionate exposures associated with the physical, chemical, biological, social, and built environments. NIH-designated U.S. health disparity populations are Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, underserved rural populations, and sexual and gender minorities.
NIMHD and NIEHS each intend to commit $2 million in FY 2020 for a total of $4 million to fund up to 3 awards and NICHD intends to commit $300,000 in FY2020 for a total of $4.3 million to fund up to 3 awards.
Filed Under: Funding Opportunities