Social isolation and loneliness are a public health concern because they are associated with poor mental and physical health outcomes and mortality. Social isolation is defined as have few, or no, social connections, and not participating in activities with others. Loneliness is defined as feeling unsatisfied about the amount of social engagement in one’s life.
Before the current pandemic, people with disabilities reported significantly higher rates of social isolation and loneliness than those without disabilities. Inaccessible events and buildings, limited accessible public transportation, social stigma, and lower rates of employment all contribute to these high rates. When restrictions are put in place to help protect people from COVID-19, what happens to these rates?
To learn more about how COVID-19 and public health responses such as stay-at-home orders may contribute to feelings of social isolation and loneliness among people with disabilities, RTC:Rural researchers compared data from two cross-sectional samples collected before and after the first wave of “stay-at-home” orders.
Rural/urban differences in trust in sources and preventative practices
Public health is shaped by community-level action. This is especially important during crises such as COVID-19, where widespread adoption of public health practices is necessary to manage community spread and prevent loss. Consistent information is important for fostering trust and adherence to recommended practices.
Dr. Griffen provided an overview of the competencies and linkages to public health accreditation and information on local and national resources to help public health organizations strengthen their workforce and better include people with disabilities. The webinar also provided a forum for participants to discuss current resources and strategies being used by others in the field.
The webinar was a Montana-specific version of a previous workforce competencies webinar Dr. Griffen participated in on January 24, 2017. RTC:Rural is pleased to support this webinar as a way to share knowledge between national, state, and local public health professionals and disability service providers about including people with disabilities in public health plans in a rural state like Montana. Continue reading →