Our ambition across Research & Innovation is to ensure that the research we support, and the systems in which we operate, do not exacerbate existing health inequalities. Simultaneously, we want to create a research environment which could lead to a reduction in health inequalities for the population served by NCA.
Recognising that health inequalities are avoidable, unfair and systematic differences in health between different groups of people, that can span socio-economic factors, geography, protected characteristics and socially excluded groups, it is important to ensure that the research we do and how we do it is inclusive.
To meet this aim, our Health inequalities and research plan details a programme of work with four overarching themes. These are based on evidence of where improvements in reducing health inequalities could be made, as well as being aligned to the R&I Strategy, NCA strategy (Vision10) and regional and national drivers across the research and healthcare landscape.
- Theme 1 – governance structures, aims to ensure that the approval and monitoring processes for studies is in accordance with an agreed health inequalities framework. Our work in this area will focus on the type and range of studies we support, making sure systems are in place to identify whether planned research could have an impact on health inequalities. A key part of this work will be to review our approval process, identifying barriers to taking part in studies at the earliest stage of the research process.
- Theme 2 – data analytics will provide a basis to review the research portfolio, providing detailed analysis of our research studies. Evidence shows that inclusion and participation in research varies across the population, leading to some groups being underserved and underrepresented. An element of this work will be to improve the collection of demographic data to support a more detailed understanding of who is taking part in research.
- Theme 3 – research studies, aims to increase the diversity of research participants. To meet this aim, a core part of the work will be to address identified barriers to inclusion, engaging with our stakeholders across the NCA footprint to bring about changes in practice throughout the research cycle.
- Theme 4 – workforce, will provide training and support to ensure all R&I staff have an understanding of health inequalities, how it relates to the research cycle, their role and health improvement. As part of this theme, we recognise that internal systems need to reflect our ambitions to address inequity. An integral part of the work will be to ensure that the recruitment, retention, development and training opportunities across the R&I workforce are equitable.
The development and implementation of the health inequalities and research work is being led by Prof Smeeta Sinha – Clinical Lead and Deputy Director of R&I and Jess Zadik – Operational Lead – Health Inequalities Research Lead.