A new research program launched by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) — part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) — aims to improve disparities in surgical care and outcomes among disadvantaged populations.

The surgical disparities program will include collaborative efforts with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, as well as several NIH centers and institutions. Participants will examine hypotheses for improving surgical care based on published or evidence-based surgical methods, according to Irene Dankwa-Mullan, MD, acting deputy director of NIMHD’s division of extramural research. The program builds on the American College of Surgeons’ work to improve access, quality, and safe surgical care for all.

As much as 30 percent of the disease burden worldwide requires surgical care and/or anesthesia management. In the United States, about 51 million inpatient and 53 million outpatient surgeries are performed annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile, a recent study found an increase in surgery-related mortality rates among U.S. patients with lower socioeconomic statuses.