MR3 Network Statement about Health Disparities and Rehab Science

How do health disparities affect rehabilitation practice and rehabilitation science? Why are Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility important to the MR3 Network?

The topics of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are of high relevance to the NIH-funded network of infrastructure research centers collectively known as MR3. Rehabilitation Science seeks to advance the health and well-being of individuals through developing and testing the efficacy of new forms of rehabilitation, and then discovering ways to effectively and equitably implement these evidence-based practices widely. Almost all of the medical conditions, injuries, and risk variables that can compromise longevity, health, and functional vitality are over-represented in individuals of color and ethnic minorities, as well as in those living in economic poverty and those with diagnosed “disabilities.” In turn, these major health disparities are associated with an elevated need for effective medical rehabilitation.
Remarkably little is written about the urgency of these well-known health disparities in terms of the provision of medical rehabilitation services to historically under-represented and marginalized groups. Our MR3 Work Group on DEI, on behalf of the entire MR3 Network, is committed to raising awareness of these disparities and finding ways to reduce, and eventually eliminate, these disparities.

The DEI Work Group has a three-pronged approach:

  1. to recruit greater diversity into the fields actively engaged in Rehabilitation Science (including physiatry, physical therapy, occupational therapy, neurology, psychology, biostatistics, bioengineering, neurosciences, developmental pediatrics, implementation science);
  2. to ensure that the study participants in medical rehabilitation clinical trials adequately represent the racial, ethnic, and other diversity indicators of the designated clinical populations being studied; and
  3. to conduct research that will ensure that all patients likely to benefit from newly discovered efficacious treatments will have timely access to the information as well as to the health care delivery so that everyone can benefit maximally.

The DEI Work Group extends an open invitation for other in MR3 to join us. We also ask the 6 centers to share this invitation with those who receive Pilot Study funds, participate in Mentored Collaborations, and serve on their Research Advisory Boards. There is no definitive roadmap for how to realize our vision; but working together in an environment that fosters open sharing and constructive criticism is likely to yield positive results.

We invite you to submit your diversity-related programming, events, materials, and other resources for publication, promotion, and use by MR3 Network centers and their communities.