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Harnessing Real-World Data to Reduce Health Disparities

Suite of research and data services are aimed at accelerating the shift from T3 to T4

MARCH 2022

Structural racism and social inequalities have led to deep and persistent health disparities, but the team at Stanford’s Center for Population Health Sciences (PHS), one of Spectrum's CTSA cores, is focused on harnessing data to address these disparities and improve population health. 

“We have seen incredible advances in diagnostics, drugs, and devices over the past decade,” explains Dr. David Rehkopf, Director of PHS and Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health. “Unfortunately, many communities have been excluded from resources and scientific advances, contributing to significant health inequalities.”

To reduce these inequalities, PHS provides a comprehensive suite of research and data services aimed at accelerating the shift from T3 (dissemination and implementation research) to T4 (diffusion research). The Center offers secure access to an extensive portfolio of real-world data, with a large collection of datasets that include historically excluded populations.

“Our data can be used by researchers to respond directly to the challenges of systemic racism and social inequalities as fundamental causes of health inequalities,” says Rehkopf.

“Our data can be used by researchers to respond directly to the challenges of systemic racism and social inequalities as fundamental causes of health inequalities.” 
              – David Rehkopf

In addition, PHS offers courses, workshops, consultation services, and programs designed to build the capacity of translational medicine scholars to utilize large complex population-level datasets to understand and address inequalities in the development and adoption of diagnostics, drugs, and devices.

To date, PHS’s data core has supported more than 900 users, 500 studies, 2,000 projects, and generated hundreds of publications. The team has facilitated collaborations between Stanford researchers and PHS community partners (e.g., Solano County Public Health Department, San Joaquin Valley Public Health Consortium, American Board of Family Medicine). This past year they partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to use PHS data in examining health inequalities in COVID-19 incidence and long-term complications.

With support from Spectrum, Stanford's Center for Clinical and Translational Research and Education, PHS also offers pilot grants of up to $40,000 to stimulate novel research that uses real world data to advance our understanding of how environments, policies, and programs impact population health and social inequalities in health. The next round of grant applications is due March 31, 2022.

For detailed information on PHS’s data portfolio and to utilize their consultation services, please visit the PHS website.


POPULATION HEALTH: A conceptual framework for thinking about why some populations are healthier than others, as well as the policy development, research agenda, and resource allocation that flow from this framework.

                                     March 2003, Volume 93, Number 3 | American Journal of Public Health