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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Louisville: Researchers Part of a NIH-funded Study on Rural Communities

A new study hopes to help researchers understand what causes high rates of heart, lung, blood and sleep disorders (HLBS) in rural Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Dubbed the Risk Underlying Rural Areas Longitudinal (RURAL) study, Dr. Stephanie Boone, assistant professor, University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences (SPHIS) will lead the research in Kentucky. Joining her are UofL SPHIS co-investigators Dr. Kathy Baumgartner, and Dr. Rick Baumgartner.

The overall study is coordinated by Boston University School of Medicine and funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health. The six-year, $21.4 million multi-site prospective epidemiology cohort study includes 50 investigators from 15 other institutions.

“The burden of health outcomes in rural Kentucky and the other states in this study are a result of poorly understood factors that affect all people,” Dr. Boone said. “Understanding differences and root causes in vulnerable communities where people live and age is relevant and timely in the Commonwealth, especially given the ongoing health care system transformation.”

The number of heart disease-related deaths in 2017 placed Kentucky ninth among all states and territories in the United States. Some rural counties, particularly in the Appalachian region, experience higher rates of heart disease, chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), and stroke mortality rates. These same areas also report a higher prevalence of risk factors for poor health including unhealthy lifestyles, low-income and exposure to unique environmental hazards compared to non-Appalachian regions in Kentucky.

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