On April 25th and 26th, 2013, Health Disparities Research at the Intersection of Race, Ethnicity, and Disability: A National Conference took place in Washington, DC. Conference organizers included the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the National Center for Cultural Competence at Georgetown University, the Institute on Development & Disability at Oregon Health & Science University, the Project Intersect Advisory Council, the Institute for Disability Studies at the University of Southern Mississippi, and the American Association on Health and Disability and was sponsored by the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and the Special Hope Foundation.
The conference brought together researchers, federal agencies, people with disabilities, information specialists, advocacy groups, and many others; all of whom found themselves at the crossroads between health disparities and race, ethnicity, and disability. The first discussion panel consisted of people with disabilities from different racial and ethnic backgrounds who shared their experiences in accessing healthcare within their local communities. This panel set the tone for the rest of the conference as they reminded the attendees of how far we have come and how far we still have to go to end health disparities. The second panel consisted of experts from the public health, advocacy/legal, and research fields who discussed what is already known, what we need to know, and other key issues related the intersection of health disparities and race, ethnicity, and disability. The third panel included researchers from the Institute on Development and Disability at Oregon Health & Science University, Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the Southern California University Center of Excellence in Development Disabilities (USC UCEDD), which discussed the findings from Project Intersect. The final panel, which was made up of advocacy professionals, including a member of TASH, discussed approaches to address disparities.
The afternoon’s concurrent sessions, described in more detail in this blog post, were very informative and created great discussion. Many of the questions presented during the sessions would be presented the next morning to the representatives of several federal agencies, including NIDRR and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The majority of the discussion dealt with the grant processes of the federal agencies that fund disability and health disparity research; yet there was also plenty of detailed discussion on disseminating information to the racial, ethnic, and disability communities that is accessible to all. The sessions and discussions were stimulating for many of those involved.
The keynote address by Dr. Camara Jones, MD, MPH, PhD, on how racism affects health disparities and how to find health equity was thought provoking and enlightening and provided much information to be discussed over the next few days. The last panel discussion of the conference, “Federal Perspective on Advancing Health Equity Research,” was moderated by NIDRR’s own Margaret Campbell, PhD, and presented the conference’s recommendations for research. The panelists included Gloria Krahn, PhD, MPH, Director, CDC Division of Human Development and Disability, Charlie Lakin, PhD, Director, NIDRR, Ernest Moy, MD, MPH, Medical Officer, AHRQ, Ana Penman-Aguilar, PhD, MPH, Associate Director of Science, CDC Office of Minority Health & Health Equity, and Nathaniel Stinson, Jr., MD, PhD, MPH, Director, Division of Scientific Programs, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. With Dr. Campbell’s lively moderation, the panel was able to succinctly place a federal and fiscal perspective on health equity research and on disability research as a whole.
The conference was well attended and well received. There were many thought provoking and interesting panels and discussions throughout the two day affair, and we know these discussions will continue for months to come.