People choose to live in rural America because it is home to them. They feel like they fit in rural communities based on shared values and other similarities to their rural neighbors. They continue to live in rural communities despite the challenges associated with having limited resources to help meet daily needs, such as public transportation or lack of health services. The demands of living in a rural environment can be particularly challenging when rural people experience some kind of impairment.
Rural person-environment fit (P-E fit) describes a wide variety of life conditions and phenomena. It examines personal and environmental characteristics in order to predict community participation, which includes socializing, recreating, and working. Personal characteristics include physical, psychological and social aspects of the individual. Environmental characteristics include usability and accessibility of the built and social environment.
Little is known about how impairments, like difficulty walking, become disabling for rural people over time. For example, do impairments lead to loss of income, so rural people cannot afford to participate in their communities? Do inaccessible rural communities simply discourage participation? Do people choose to stop socializing and then lose their connections in the community? Answers to these questions can direct the development of rural community supports that allow people to maintain participation.
In this study, participants will complete a paper and pencil survey that will be conducted in four waves, each twelve months apart. The survey will measure important characteristics like secondary conditions (such as pain and fatigue), psychological states (such as depression and hope), social circumstances (such as social activities and perceived social support) and environmental barriers (such as accessibility, climate, etc.). Scores for each characteristic will be used to predict how much people participate in community and how that participation changes over time.
This project will begin to highlight the person and environment characteristics that are most salient for improving rural community participation. In conjunction with Resilience in Community Participation and Person-Environment Fit in rural communities, this set of mixed-method studies will be the first longitudinal rural study to examine predictors of change in community participation. Results from this project will inform the development of interventions and public policy related to increasing community participation by people with disabilities in rural areas.
- Project dates: Dates: 2013-2018
- Funded by: National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research Grant No. H133B130028
- Principal staff: Craig Ravesloot, Ph.D., Tom Seekins, Ph.D., Tracy Boehm, M.P.H., Tannis Hargrove, M.S., Lillie Greiman, M.A.
- Related projects:
What the Research Says…
- Research Findings
Links to Publications
- Disability Items From the Current Population Survey (2008-2015) and Permanent Versus Temporary Disability Status (American Journal of Public Health, May 2017)
- May 24, 2017: “University of Montana and University of Kansas disability researchers contribute to special journal issue.”
- March 21, 2017: “RTC:Rural study finds longstanding interpretation of disability data incomplete.”
- Feb. 6, 2018: “RTC:Rural researchers author blog post for National Disability Institute.”