Identifying and Overcoming Barriers to Health and Health Care in Northern New England
In rural areas of northern New England, residents may experience barriers to health care access such as lack of transportation or limited provider capacity. Such barriers may reduce access to primary care, mental health care, and cutting-edge treatments typically provided by academic medical centers.
Building Academic–Community Partnerships
Systematically improving our understanding of differences in health care delivery between rural and non-rural areas has enormous potential to inform health care improvements that would impact individual patients and entire populations. Extending state-of-the art treatment from academic settings to rural areas and developing research ideas from rural communities into rigorous studies is a top priority. Such advances could greatly expand our knowledge of how rurality impacts health and health care and how we can use this information to improve the health of rural New England. This is a principal mission of the Community Engagement & Outreach Core.
Engaging the Community in Research
When clinicians and community-based partners work collaboratively to facilitate community participation in research, meaningful progress can result. We are actively building capacity for health care stakeholders and rural community members to participate in research activities and for academic institution-based researchers to effectively engage rural health care providers and their patients in research.
Community member input on research priorities and study design can inform the goals and strategies of clinical and translational investigations. Studies have shown the enormous potential for community-member support in all areas of research planning and design to accelerate research progress. For example, community input can be invaluable for developing messaging and communications tools, reviewing informed consent documents, and providing feedback on research protocols. In the context of rural health care research, the concept of community includes the following:
- People directly or indirectly impacted by a research intervention (i.e., patients and their families)
- Staff, groups, or individuals responsible for systems-level healthcare implementation and delivery (i.e., staff in community-based organizations and/or individuals/groups paying for, purchasing, or making policy decisions about health)
- Anyone delivering health care, such as health and mental health care providers, support staff, and administrators, in locations like clinics, hospitals, long-term care facilities, schools, and home-based programs
How Can I Get Involved?
The Community Engagement & Outreach Core is developing initiatives that will provide opportunities for community input from health care providers, staff, and patients in rural areas of northern New England. As these initiatives are launched, the core will solicit input from rural health stakeholders and consumers.
There are significant resources for conducting clinical and translational research currently available through the Northern New England Clinical & Translational Research Network. These include opportunities for professional development, research navigation, research technology, and pilot project funding. Additional information and opportunities will be added soon as we prepare to launch our updated website and interactive NNE-CTR Member Portal.