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RTC:Rural Research Associate awarded prestigious research and policy fellowship

Headshot of Jennifer Wong

Dr. Jennifer Wong, RTC:Rural Research Associate

Dr. Jennifer Wong, RTC:Rural Research Associate, has been awarded a Training Fellowship in Rehabilitation Policy Research with the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Healthy Aging & Physical Disability at the University of Washington (UW). The two-year fellowship consists of a year of rehabilitation research at UW, followed by a year of policy research in Washington, D.C.  Wong will join one other postdoctoral researcher to make up the fellowship’s second cohort. The fellowship will begin in October 2017.

Wong completed her dissertation in Experimental Psychology at the University of Montana in December 2016. Her dissertation research contributes to RTC:Rural’s Ecology of Rural Disability project. She has worked with RTC:Rural on various research projects since 2014, and has contributed to RTC:Rural’s Pain Interference Patterns, Person-Environment Fit, Resilience in Community Participation, Decision Support, and Participation in Events research projects.  Wong has also contributed to the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities’ (RIIC) Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) project on rural discharge planning.

Wong was drawn to the fellowship program at UW because of its interdisciplinary nature and its focus on aging, disability, and policy. “This is the only program that does one year of research followed by one year of policy,” she said. “They look at policy research questions, which is something that’s really close to my heart. How do we advocate, how do we move research into policy, and what does that look like?”

During the first year of the fellowship, Wong will be in Seattle, Washington and will work with Dr. Ivan Molton, her future mentor at UW, to outline an individualized research plan for the year. Wong will connect with Dr. Molton over the summer to begin learning about the research currently being carried out by the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at UW and together they will decide what she will focus on during her year at UW. UW is currently conducting a 10-year longitudinal study, said Wong, investigating people living and aging with a long-term physical disability and their related secondary conditions, access to health care, and rehabilitation care. Because of her time at RTC:Rural, Wong would like to continue to work with large datasets. “I’d like to understand how they can be used in a way that advocates for others,” she said. Continue reading

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. Continue reading