On July 31, 2018, the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), together with its National Institutes of Health (NIH) partners, the National Institute on Aging, National Institute of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Office of Research on Women’s Health, Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research, and Office of Disease Prevention, convened a Workshop on the "State of Rural Health Disparities: Research Gaps and Recommendations.” The Workshop examined current research findings on rural health disparities and, with almost 60 presenters and participants, provided an opportunity for scientists and health advocates to come together to catalyze and shape the future research agenda for this often-overlooked critical area.
The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams, Deputy Surgeon General, Dr. Sylvia Trent-Adams, and the Director of the NINR, Dr. Patricia Grady, opened the workshop and set the tone for the full-day discussion on building the science of understanding and addressing rural health disparities.
There was consensus on a number of points, including:
- the need for NIH to create funding opportunities focused on building community based participatory relationships, which are critical for conducting rural health research;
- challenges of the rural health environment that preclude adoption of the research strategies developed to study urban health disparities;
- the lack of innovative research designs and approaches relevant to rural settings;
- the need to test sustainability of interventions;
- the importance of defining rurality and recognizing rural residents as a unique population, while also identifying the diversity within the rural population and adopting culturally appropriate approaches.
Throughout the day, participants had the opportunity for more granular conversations to promote future collaborative opportunities.
In sum, the workshop highlighted the challenges and triumphs of rural health disparities research and helped identify gaps and opportunities for research targeted at rural populations. Read the full summary.