Published on 3 May 2023

Recommendations to prioritise research.

A new report has highlighted the need for more influence in medical research to address stark health disparities between different groups across the country that can impact on health and life expectancy.

The APPG (All-Party Parliamentary Group) on Medical Research has published a report that makes the case for medical research as a key tool for change to reduce health disparities.

While, these inequalities have been well documented in recent years, the role of research in tackling these disparities has often been overlooked.

The report urges a shift in priorities for research funding to give a new focus to diversity and inclusion.

The document claims that research is a vital but under-utilised tool in the fight to address health inequalities in the UK.

The APPG received responses from a range of healthcare bodies and professionals, research organisations, patient representatives with lived experience, policy experts and researchers in compiling the report over a year-long enquiry.

Researcher and microscope.

Three key action areas recommended by the APPG report:

  • Research funding: a government-led, overarching, accountable strategy prioritising research to address health disparities is needed.
  • Inclusion in clinical research and data: a greater diversity of voices should be involved in all stages and areas of research. This should be promoted through guidance and incentivisation.
  • Implementing research evidence: NHS England and local Integrated Care Systems should play a larger role in reducing barriers to getting research findings into policy and practice.

The inquiry highlighted that a major barrier to reducing health disparities was a failure to include underserved groups and those with lived experience in research.

A study could risk not being relevant or trusted when the research process is carried out separately from the people it is setting out to help.

Tony Kelly, Diabetes Strategic Patient Partner, NHS Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care System, said: “Involving marginalised groups in research need not be an ‘us and them’ situation. In communities such as mine in the Midlands, researchers can make use of our local knowledge to improve the quality of the study. But they need time to engage with us meaningfully.”

Nisha Tailor, Director of External Affairs at AMRC (the Association of Medical Research Charities) who worked on the inquiry, said: “By examining the root causes of these disparities, medical research can inform policy changes, clinical practice guidelines and community-based interventions aimed at improving healthcare access and quality, reducing health disparities, and promoting health equity. This can lead to better health outcomes for all populations, regardless of their background or circumstances.”

Chris Green MP, Chair of APPG on Medical Research, said: “As a nation, the pressing need to deal with the stark health disparities that exist between different communities across the country grows stronger. The gaps in health outcomes and life expectancy between our towns, cities, and rural areas, or between people of different socioeconomic, gender, ethnic and other backgrounds, are abundantly clear. There is much the UK’s vibrant research sector, and the NHS can do to face this health burden.”

Read the Health disparities: Why medical research is a crucial tool for change report here

DRWF is a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), a membership body representing the leading medical and health research charities who deliver high-quality research that saves and improves lives.

Read more about DRWF and the AMRC

Find out more about DRWF-funded research here

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