HADSI Health Disparities Research

Regional Health Disparity Forum Vision


HEALS Hypertension Program





  • Health disparities can be defined as significant gaps or differences in the overall rates of disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity, mortality, or survival in a given population compared with the health status of the general population.2 The goal of eliminating health disparities cannot be accomplished by a single sector, institution or agency. Furthermore, it is recognized that the causes of health disparities are complex and multifactorial and stem from not only the healthcare sector but also the social determinants of health (i.e., the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age). Sustainable multi-academic-healthcare systems, as well as public and private partnerships, exemplify the importance of the collaborative engagement needed to accomplish this goal.
  • In September 2020, the EVMS-Sentara Healthcare Analytics and Delivery Science Institute (HADSI) put together a Regional Health Disparity Forum to reduce and eventually eliminate disparities in health and healthcare by promoting greater scientific collaboration among Virginia’s academic institutions and healthcare partners. Given the complexity involved in eliminating health disparities, there is a need for more transdisciplinary, collaborative work. The forum stimulates interests and offers opportunities for collaborations and partnerships. Further, the forum provides an opportunity to work collaboratively to ‘‘ensure health disparities research is conducted as an integrated and inclusive field of study, rather than as an aggregate of independent research activities occurring in separate research domains.


  • Close the health inequity gap through collaboration, advocacy, and institutional partnerships so that all people in the state of Virginia will have the opportunity to attain good health and well-being.Return to top


  • To reduce disparities by implementing the concepts that are shown to work and develop them into policies and actions for all Virginians. Return to top


  • The primary goal of the forum is to engage a wide range of experts to create a transdisciplinary, systems-thinking approach to address the complex issues that limit individual agency efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate health disparities. This goal is to be achieved by working toward the following four objectives:
  1. Explore the complexity of health disparities within the state to identify new and proven solutions.
  2. Identify priorities for cross-agency/organization collaborations.
  3. Coordinate academic institutions and healthcare partners in the region to support collaborative efforts to eventually lead to the elimination of health disparities.
  4. Test, implement, and disseminate innovative programs to inform and enhance services in key public health areas. Return to top


COVIDsmart study

  • COVIDsmart study was launched in 2021 and is a statewide collaborative effort between George Mason University (GMU), Vibrent Health Inc., and EVMS/HADSI. The objective is to learn and understand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities by capturing data on COVID-19 prevalence, demographics, symptoms, mental and physical health, education/work functioning, social/family functioning, economic impact, and health perceptions. To date, 830 adult participants have been recruited in the study. Return to top
  • For more information on COVIDsmart study, please visit  the study website at www.covidsmartstudy.org or contact the HADSI helpdesk at hadsi@evms.edu

Taking Action to Address Community Needs

  • Preliminary results from COVIDmsart are helping us to identify areas of need in Virginia communities. For example, we found anxiety and/or depression levels were high for COVIDsmart participants. About 22% of COVIDsmart participants have moderate to severe anxiety, and about 24% have moderate to severe depression. As a result, EVMS has funded a program to provide digital Cognitive Behavior Therapy called SilverCloud to the newly diagnosed study participants with moderate to severe anxiety and/or depression these COVIDsmart participants. Return to top

Silvercloud Program Study

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a community-wide mental health crisis leading to longer wait times for mental healthcare services. A population-based approach is needed to increase access to care and prevent the exacerbation of mental health illness. This study has the potential to provide evidence for the utilization of the digital therapy SilverCloud to reduce anxiety and/or depression in digital community settings.  Findings could influence public health policy to fund access to SilverCloud for disadvantaged populations. The SilverCloud study is currently ongoing. Return to top
  • To learn more about other mental health resources available in Hampton Roads and other Communities in Virginia, please click here

Addressing Mistrust in COVID-19 Guidance

  • The purpose of this project is to study how perceived legitimacy of important institutions and mistrust in sources of COVID-19 information affect compliance with public health guidance designed to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. This project entails working closely with a Community Advisory Board of low-income housing residents and a core participant group who will complete on-line assessments and participate in focus groups throughout the two-year study period. The overarching goal is to develop community-informed strategies to address resident concerns about COVID-19. This NIH funded project is led by Dr. Andrew Plunk.



HEALS Med-Tech

Preliminary Results