The National Institutes of Health-American College of Surgeons (NIH-ACS) Symposium on Surgical Disparities Research was convened with the goal of setting a national agenda for surgical disparities research. Over the course of two days, more than 60 top-level researchers, surgeon-scientists, and federal leaders reviewed the existing literature and participated in interactive consensus-building exercises. After individual thematic presentations, attendees contributed research priorities for each theme. Suggestions were collated, refined, and prioritized during the latter half of the event.
Surgical Disparities Research Priorities
The top five priorities identified are:
- Improving patient-clinician communication by helping clinicians deliver culturally dexterous, competent care and measuring its effect on the elimination of disparities.
- Fostering engagement and community outreach by using technology to optimize patient education, health literacy, and shared decision making in a culturally relevant way; disseminating these technologies; and evaluating their effect on reducing surgical disparities.
- Improving care at facilities with a higher proportion of minority surgical and trauma patients. This includes evaluation of regionalization of care versus strengthening of safety-net hospitals within the context of differential access and surgical disparities.
- Evaluating the long-term effect of acute interventions and rehabilitation support within the critical period of injury or illness on functional outcomes and patient-defined perceptions of quality of care.
- Improving patient centeredness by identifying expectations for postoperative and post-injury recovery. This includes adhering to patient values regarding advanced health care planning and palliative care needs.
In conclusion, the NIH-ACS Symposium on Surgical Disparities Research succeeded in identifying a comprehensive research agenda, but this work is not done. Future research and funding priorities should prioritize patients’ care perspectives, workforce diversification and training, and systematic evaluation of health technologies to reduce surgical disparities.