Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society (ComPASS)

Program Snapshot

To advance the science of health disparities and advance health equity research, the NIH Common Fund launched the Community Partnerships to Advance Science for Society (ComPASS) Program. The goals of ComPASS are to 1) develop, share, and evaluate community-led health equity structural interventions that leverage partnerships across multiple sectors to reduce health disparities and 2) develop a new health equity research model for community-led, multisectoral structural intervention research across NIH and other federal agencies.

In the United States, health disparities remain a persistent challenge impacting racial and ethnic minorities and other disproportionately affected populations. There is a critical need to address the complex nature of minority health and health disparities using structural interventions. In general, structural interventions are defined as efforts that attempt to change the social, physical, economic, or political environments that may shape or constrain health behaviors and outcomes. They can also address social determinants of health (SDOH) such as economic instability, limited educational and employment opportunities, access to quality housing and healthy food, and lack of community resources. The ComPASS program provides an unprecedented opportunity to design innovative intervention projects that focus on SDOH for community-empowered research. The program will enable communities and researchers to work collaboratively as equal partners in all phases of the research process to enhance the quality of interventions and advance health disparities research. The intent of this research is to improve health outcomes in communities affected by health disparities and inform social policies, systems, and practices to achieve optimal health for all.

At the NIH, health disparities research and advancing health equity cuts across the missions of multiple Institutes, Centers, and Offices (ICOs). This Common Fund program will focus on health disparities research in a way no NIH ICO could achieve individually. Rather than tackling inequities one disease, organ system, or life stage at a time, ComPASS will develop an NIH-wide strategy to address structural factors that impact multiple dimensions of health.

ComPASS also seeks to increase diversity and inclusion in research by cultivating community trust and partnerships, building research capacity among the community and relevant partners, and enhancing community organization competitiveness for future funding. The program is synergistic with other federal initiatives to end structural racism and serves as a launch pad for future efforts to eliminate health disparities and advance health equity.

This page last reviewed on May 17, 2023