University of Montana Rural Institute

Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities – RTC: Rural

MainHallwithSquirrelThe Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities (RTC: Rural) conducts research on disability as part of the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities at the University of Montana. RTC: Rural is funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) to improve the ability of people with disabilities to engage in rural community living.

Research projects at RTC: Rural focus on community participation and independent living, health & wellness, and employment and vocational rehabilitation.  Research products include: Living and Working Well with a Disability, health promotion programs for people with disabilities; Telecom Toolbox, a resource for Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors; and the Transportation Voucher program available from the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL).

As a NIDILRR-funded program, the Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities strives to ensure people with disabilities participate in all stages of the development and implementation of research projects.  Our goal is to make sure research results and products are useful and relevant to people with disabilities, their families and service providers.

Learn more about RTC: Rural, our staff and history by checking out our About Page .  Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


    RTC:Rural researcher completes dissertation focusing on disability and wellbeing

    Jennifer Wong headshotThe RTC:Rural celebrates the accomplishments of Research Associate Jennifer Wong, who completed her doctoral dissertation in Experimental Psychology at The University of Montana in December 2016.

    Her dissertation, part of the RTC: Rural’s Ecology of Participation project, titled “Purpose and Satisfaction in Activities in Rural Communities Using Ecological Momentary Assessment,” explores the relationships among purpose, satisfaction, and happiness during daily activities as they relate to wellbeing.

    “We know there is a difference between people with disabilities and those without impairments,” Wong said, “but not the details of how they’re different, or what is different.” In addition, Dr. Wong is also interested in how wellbeing is associated with how individuals feel in relation to how they fit in their environment.

    After analyzing the data, Wong says she “can say with confidence that purpose and satisfaction in daily activities are good predictors of wellbeing.” She also found that satisfaction of daily activities is positively associated with person-environment fit during that moment.

    Wong found that those who were happier early in the day also tended to feel more satisfied and feel their activities had more purpose later in the day. Satisfaction early in the day was also linked to a more positive sense of person-environment fit later in the day. These results, said Wong, could be used to develop interventions that aim to increase happiness earlier in the day, which could result in a greater feeling of wellbeing throughout the day.

    Dr. Wong’s research adds to RTC:Rural research on Person-Environment Fit, which seeks to understand how characteristics of the individual and environmental features interact and influence community engagement.

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    RTC:Rural “Health My Way” App being designed to increase health and wellness for people in rural communities

    App icon for RTC:Rural's "Health My Way" app, which is currently under development

    App icon for RTC:Rural's "Health My Way" app, which is currently under development

    One of RTC:Rural’s current projects aims to develop and test a new health-related app called “Health My Way.”

    The app is being produced as part of the Ecological Decision Support for Health Promotion project led by project manager Tannis Hargrove, M.S.  The app provides a solution for individuals who live in rural areas and are unable to participate in group workshops on healthy living due to limited transportation or lack of other resources.

    The idea and content for the app came from two of RTC:Rural’s previous projects. The first, Living Well With a Disability (LWD), is a health-promotion program that helps participants set and reach quality-of-life goals by developing a healthy lifestyle. The LWD program especially aims to help participants manage secondary health conditions. LWD is a 10- to 12-week program facilitated by a trained workshop facilitator who leads weekly meetings for the group.

    The second project, Consumer Self-Managed Use of Rural Healthcare Services (CASM), helped participants connect to available healthcare services in their communities. CASM used some of the goal-setting and health-management content from the LWD program and addressed how to overcome specific barriers to using those resources.

    “Health My Way” was developed to provide an alternative for those individuals who could not participate in the LWD program due to logistical or personal challenges.  This tool is especially important for those living in rural communities where the cost and accessibility of transportation can be substantial barriers to participation. The app is meant to be completed one-on-one with a staff member from a local Center for Independent Living, which involves more flexibility in location and time than is afforded by the LWD group meetings.

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What does RTC: Rural do?

RTC: Rural is a leader in research on disability in rural communities. Visit our About page to learn more.