Setting a national agenda for surgical disparities research: Recommendations from the National Institutes of Health and American College of Surgeons Summit

Document Type



General Surgery


Health care disparities (differential access, care, and outcomes owing to factors such as race/ethnicity) are widely established. Compared with other groups, African American individuals have an increased mortality risk across multiple surgical procedures. Gender, sexual orientation, age, and geographic disparities are also well documented. Further research is needed to mitigate these inequities. To do so, the American College of Surgeons and the National Institutes of Health-National Institute of Minority Health and Disparities convened a research summit to develop a national surgical disparities research agenda and funding priorities. Sixty leading researchers and clinicians gathered in May 2015 for a 2-day summit. First, literature on surgical disparities was presented within 5 themes: (1) clinician, (2) patient, (3) systemic/access, (4) clinical quality, and (5) postoperative care and rehabilitation-related factors. These themes were identified via an exhaustive preconference literature review and guided the summit and its 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 summit. Breakout sessions yielded 3 to 5 top research priorities by theme. Overall priorities, regardless of theme, included improving patient-clinician communication, fostering engagement and community outreach by using technology, improving care at facilities with a higher proportion of minority patients, evaluating the longer-term effect of acute intervention and rehabilitation support, and improving patient centeredness by identifying expectations for recovery. The National Institutes of Health and American College of Surgeons Summit on Surgical Disparities Research succeeded in identifying a comprehensive research agenda. Future research and funding priorities should prioritize patients' care perspectives, workforce diversification and training, and systematic evaluation of health technologies to reduce surgical disparities.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University


JAMA Surgery