NIH – Community Interventions to Address the Consequences of the COVID-19 Pandemic among Health Disparity and Vulnerable Populations (R01- Clinical Trial Optional)

June 25, 2020 by


This Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) encourages applications to implement and evaluate community interventions testing 1) the impacts of mitigation strategies to prevent COVID-19 transmission in NIH-designated health disparity populations and other vulnerable groups; and 2) already implemented, new, or adapted interventions to address the adverse psychosocial, behavioral, and socioeconomic 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).

Mounting evidence indicates worse outcomes and greater COVID-19 related morbidity and mortality among individuals with underlying medical conditions, older adults, and individuals with long-term exposure to outdoor air pollution. Preliminary reports in the U.S. point consistently to disparities by race and ethnicity, with African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians/Other Pacific Islanders experiencing a greater COVID-19 burden than non-Hispanic White populations. Reports by geographic locations indicate that cases are substantially greater in economically disadvantaged census tracts. COVID-19 also disproportionately affects other vulnerable populations such as frontline health care workers and first responders, and all workers with direct patient contact. Frontline vulnerable populations also include those working in essential business operations (e.g., grocery and pharmacy workers, bus drivers) whose health may be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. A sex and gender lens to the COVID-19 pandemic is an important consideration as well given women are overrepresented among public-facing essential workers (e.g., women comprise more than 70% of healthcare workers globally) Understanding the multifaceted impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and public health interventions that mitigate risk and promote resilience in high-risk populations, will help improve our long-term response to the pandemic and prepare more effectively for future public health emergencies.

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 Dates:

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date): July 28, 2020
Letter of Intent Due Date(s): Not Applicable
Application Due Date(s): August 28, 2020; December 1, 2020

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Filed Under: Funding Opportunities