The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US is set to pilot a national primary care research network, with an investment of approximately $30m over fiscal years 2024 and 2025.  

This initiative, named “Communities Advancing Research Equity (CARE) for Health”, aims to enhance clinical research access and inform medical care, focusing on communities historically underserved in healthcare or underrepresented in clinical research. 

It includes individuals from specific racial and ethnic groups, rural residents, the elderly, and those with low socioeconomic status or educational levels.  

CARE for Health, which is being supported via the NIH Common Fund, is designed to build an evidence base that improves patient outcomes, grants communities access to scientific research, and increases participation in clinical trials and studies.  

The effort will initially use existing NIH-funded clinical research networks, along with other community partners, to create the necessary infrastructure at some of the selected primary care sites. 

NIH said that the initial awards, targeting organisations serving rural communities, are anticipated to be granted in fall this year.  

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Participating clinical sites will have the autonomy to select research studies that align with the health priorities of their communities.  

In addition, patients will have the opportunity to contribute their data to research, ensuring that the results are meaningful to them.  

The findings and aggregate results will be communicated back to the research participants. 

CARE for Health will address some of the common health issues and disease prevention. 

As the programme grows, it will initiate new studies across the network and establish additional study sites, as well as enhance training, data management, and interoperability.  

The network will also foster collaborations to integrate research data into clinical practice and vice versa, supporting ‘innovative’ practices and trial designs that reduce the research burden on primary care providers, as well as patients. 

Detailing the vision for CARE for Health in a Science Editorial, NIH Director Monica Bertagnolli said: “Our vision for CARE for Health is to help primary care providers and their patients contribute to knowledge generation, and to deliver evidence back to them to achieve better care.”