RTC:Rural researchers recently traveled to San Diego, CA for the American Public Health Association (APHA) annual meeting. The conference was from November 10 to 14, and theme was “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Health Equity Now.”
In attendance were RTC:Rural Director Dr. Catherine Ipsen, Director and Research Advisor Dr. Craig Ravesloot, Knowledge Broker Dr. Meg Ann Traci, and Project Directors Dr. Rayna Sage and Andrew Myers attended. Dr. Traci, Dr. Sage, and Myers gave a combined six presentations on Rural Institute and RTC:Rural research.
Dr. Sage presented “Personal assistance services: Differences in rural versus less rural U.S. states.” The presentation was co-authored by Dr. Traci, RTC:Rural Project Director Lillie Greiman, and Dr. Steve Kaye of the University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing. Sage discussed their paper, which used Census data that showed fewer personal assistance services workers (PAS) in rural areas than urban ones. These differences are positively associated with differences in the experience of function and in health and participation outcomes. The researchers used a participatory and intersectional approach to interpreting the findings by using key informant interviews.
“Attending events and sessions related to the Disability Section at APHA is a really great way to see where the field of public health is in regards to disability, especially in relation to the independent living philosophy,” shared Sage. “This is my second year attending and I really felt like we, here at the RTC: Rural, are big players in influencing where public health is heading. It was nice (and humbling) to be seen as experts on rural disability issues. Both new and more experienced public health professionals are truly interested in understanding why it’s important to get away from a medical model of disability, especially when it comes to promoting health and well-being in rural communities.”
Myers’ presentation was titled “Variance in the Six-Question Set: Does Health Status Explain Change in Disability Status?” The presentation, co-authored with Dr. Ravesloot and Dr. Ward, discussed how changes in self-reported disability relate to changes in self-reported health. He also discussed what factors may account for unexplained variance in responses to the six-question set used across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services surveys to identify people with disabilities.
Said Myers, “Attending APHA gives us a chance to learn from our colleagues at other organizations whom we may not interact with on a regular basis. This is critical for understanding the state of the science and positioning ourselves to be leaders in our field and to better serve people with disabilities.”
In addition to these RTC:Rural project presentations, Dr. Meg Ann Traci, RTC:Rural’s Knowledge Broker, also gave multiple presentations. They represent work with research partners from other projects affiliated with the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities, the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDD) under which RTC:Rural resides.
Traci presented three presentations: “Native Americans and Alaska Natives with disability: Applying a health equity lens to data mining,” which was co-authored with Helen Russette, Ph D doctoral student and RIIC research assistant; “Walkable rural communities for all: Using inclusive, interdisciplinary walk audit workshops to achieve health equity,” which was co-authored with Catherine Costakis at Montana State University; and “Health status and behaviors of adults with hearing loss: Results of the 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey,” which was co-authored with Dr. Michael McKee at the University of Michigan and Dr. Bryce Ward, RTC:Rural statistician.
Traci was also a co-author, along with Dr. Dot Nary at the Research and Training Center on Independent Living at the University of Kansas, of a presentation titled “Removing Barriers to Inclusion of People with Disabilities.”
Ipsen, who in addition to being RTC:Rural Director is also the Associate Director of RIIC, valued the opportunities to network with other researchers who are working on disability issues. “By listening to various sessions, attending the awards ceremony, and engaging in discussions, there is an opportunity to better understand emerging research and policy questions of relevance to various stakeholders across the county,” she said.