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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

UAB: Study Aims to Learn Why People in Rural South are Less Healthy, Die Sooner

Why people in rural communities in the South live shorter and less healthy lives than those who reside elsewhere in the United States is the focus of a new national study that will be based at University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health.

The Risk Underlying Rural Areas Longitudinal, or RURAL, Study will allow researchers to learn what causes the high burden of heart, lung, blood and sleep disorders in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi.

With funding from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, this six-year, $21.4 million multisite prospective cohort study will include 50 investigators from 15 other institutions.

To better understand why certain factors amplify risk in some rural counties and what renders some communities more resilient, the researchers will be recruiting and studying 4,000 multi-ethnic participants from 10 of the most economically disadvantaged rural counties in the South.

To accomplish this, researchers will build a mobile clinic to provide the medical exams on study participants in their counties. Familial, lifestyle and behavioral factors, along with medical history including risk for heart, lung, blood and sleep disorders, will be recorded. Environmental and economic factors will also be studied. UAB will be in charge of building the mobile clinic.

In addition to UAB, investigators from the University of Louisville, Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center and University of Mississippi Medical Center will play a central role in participant recruitment, retention, follow-up, data return, return of results, community engagement and education. The study’s coordinating center is Boston University School of Medicine.

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