Special Emphasis Notice: AHRQ Announces Interest in Health Services Research to Improve Healthcare for Persons Living with Disabilities
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:

November 16, 2023

Related Announcements

  • May 3, 2023 - AHRQ Health Services Research Dissertation Program (R36). See NOFO PA-23-196.
  • September 22, 2022 - AHRQ Mentored Research Scientist Career Development Award (K01). See NOFO PA-22-255.
  • August 8, 2022 - AHRQ Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08). See NOFO PA-22-232.
  • December 8, 2021- AHRQ Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) Mentored Research Scientist Career Development Award (K01). See NOFO PA-22-049.
  • December 8, 2021- AHRQ Patient-Centered Outcomes Research (PCOR) Mentored Clinical Scientist Career Development Award (K08). See NOFO PA-22-050.
  • December 8, 2021- AHRQ Mentored Career Enhancement Awards for Established Investigators in Patient-Centered Outcome Research (K18). See NOFO PA-22-051.
  • May 21, 2018 - AHRQ Health Services Research Demonstration and Dissemination Grants (R18). See NOFO PA-18-793.
  • May 21, 2018 - AHRQ Small Research Grant Program (R03). See NOFO PA-18-794.
  • May 21, 2018 - AHRQ Health Services Research Projects (R01). See NOFO PA-18-795.

Issued by



The purpose of this Special Emphasis Notice (SEN) is to inform the research community of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) strong and continued interest in receiving health services research grant applications that advance the Nation’s goal of improving health outcomes for persons living with disabilities through enhanced or innovative care. This includes health services research and interventions to reduce disparities in the quality of care, increase patient safety, improve healthcare access and effectiveness, and ultimately improve health outcomes for persons with disabilities. About 42.5 million Americans are living with disabilities, according to 2021 U.S. Census Bureau data, with older adults significantly more likely than younger adults to have a disability. This SEN builds on AHRQ's ongoing work, including the Healthcare Delivery of Preventive Services for People with Disabilities | Effective Health Care (EHC) Program (ahrq.gov).

AHRQ encourages a focus on health services research across the life course including the needs of children, adolescents, and adults of all ages, especially the growing older adult population. This SEN also aligns with AHRQ’s focus on the need for evidence to improve the organization and delivery of healthcare to optimize the health, functional status, and well-being of the U.S. population as it ages. (New AHRQ Report Explores Optimizing Health and Function as We Age | Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality). AHRQ is committed to supporting healthcare delivery systems and professionals in their efforts to improve the patient experience for those individuals living with disabilities through our work in health services research, practice improvement, and data and analytics. AHRQ is also committed to building the workforce and workforce development to improve healthcare for persons living with disabilities. (https://www.ahrq.gov/funding/training-grants/index.html) (Building the Workforce | Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (ahrq.gov).

There is increasing evidence of persons with disabilities as a population with health disparities and the importance of an intersectional approach to acknowledge and account for persons with multiple, interconnected identities. This SEN conveys AHRQ’s interest in supporting health services research to conduct research, develop, disseminate, and implement evidence-based interventions focused on persons living with disabilities, including intersections with other priority populations. AHRQ is committed to the inclusion of priority populations in health services research (About Priority Populations | Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (ahrq.gov)), (Individuals with Special Healthcare Needs | Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (ahrq.gov)). Research focused on intersectionality with other priority populations is based on the populations specifically named in AHRQ’s authorizing legislation: inner city, rural, low income; minority; women; children; elderly; and those with special health care needs, including those who have disabilities, need chronic care, or need end-of-life health care (42 U.S.C. 299(c)(1)). AHRQ also includes in its definition of priority populations those groups identified in Section 2(a) of Executive Order 13985 as members of underserved communities: Black, Latino, Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality (2021-01753.pdf (govinfo.gov). AHRQ's May 2021 updated Policy on the Inclusion of Priority Populations in Research (NOT-HS-21-015) expanded the definition of priority populations to include those groups identified in Section 2(a) of Executive Order 13985 as members of underserved communities, including persons with disabilities.

AHRQ encourages innovative research that focuses on making healthcare safer, higher quality, more accessible, equitable and affordable. Proposed study designs and methods should demonstrate innovation, a high potential impact, and meaningful collaboration and inclusion of diverse partners and communities. This includes participation of persons with disabilities in all stages of proposed research and use of methods that ensure equal partnership with the scientific and program staff (e.g., community-based participatory research, principles of co-production).

AHRQ encourages applications that:

  • Examine the effectiveness of interventions to significantly reduce inequities in health and healthcare delivery and outcomes for persons living with disabilities, particularly those focused on addressing the impacts of intersectionality of overlapping identities of priority populations
  • Focus on disability and intersections with co-occurring conditions, including chronic disease and multiple chronic conditions, across the life-course
  • Include persons with disabilities in the development of research studies (e.g., community-based participatory research) and as research participants
  • Include interdisciplinary research teams
  • Examine the effectiveness of interventions to improve outcomes of healthcare for persons living with disabilities; develops evidence for approaches to implement and scale these interventions
  • Study the effectiveness for digital solutions to improve access, equity, quality, safety, and outcomes of care

Applicants may propose projects focused on disability research, addressing any healthcare delivery-related topic including but not limited to:

  • Addressing Barriers to Access and Utilization of Healthcare
  • Primary Care Delivery
  • Prevention of Diagnostic Errors
  • Care Delivery for Persons with Multiple Chronic Conditions
  • Digital Healthcare Tools/Methods
  • Adult, Child, and Adolescent Healthcare
  • Transition from Pediatric to Adult care
  • Aging
  • Whole-Person Care
  • Patient Experience
  • Complex Care
  • Practices of Research Communities (e.g., research to explore and enhance the cultures and practices of research communities to promote care and to support researchers/trainees with disabilities)
  • Recruitment and Retention of Disabled Trainees (e.g., research to promote increased recruitment, retention and mentoring of researchers/trainees with disabilities)
  • Healthcare Policies (including changes in health insurance access, coverage, and payment)

The Agency encourages research teams to submit applications in response to this SEN using AHRQ’s current research grant announcements See: https://www.ahrq.gov/funding/fund-opps/index.html.

Specifically, the Agency encourages research teams to submit applications in response to this SEN using AHRQ’s standing R18, R03, and R01 funding mechanisms (PA-18-793, PA-18-794, PA-18-795) or any reissue of these NOFOs through expiration date of this SEN. AHRQ is also interested in receiving career development awards (PA-22-255, PA-22-232, PA-22-051, PA-22-050 and PA-22-049) that propose developing generalizable health service research skills through projects related to research on persons living with disabilities. Additionally, AHRQ is interested in receiving dissertation grant proposals addressing health services disability research (PA-23-196).

Applicants should explicitly state in their grant application's project summary/abstract that their application is responsive to this SEN by including the title and number of this SEN NOT-HS-24-004. Applicants should also enter the number of this SEN in box 4b (Agency Routing Identifier) of the SF 424 (R&R) Form.

Applications responding to this SEN should be submitted following regular application receipt dates identified in the respective NOFO and will be reviewed by AHRQ standing study sections.

Applicants should consider this SEN active until November 20, 2025.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Email: Grant_Queries@ahrq.hhs.gov