As part of the Precision Health Grand Challenge initiative, Indiana University will reach out to the state’s rural residents to gain insights into a variety of issues that affect health in Hoosier communities.
As part of this effort, IU researchers have selected a scientifically representative sample of Hoosiers households including some in Jackson County to receive interview invitations.
The study began in late 2018 in Marion County and is now expanding to rural communities.
Credentialed interviewers will be visiting residents, discussing the project and answering residents’ questions, according to a news release from the Indiana University Center for Rural Engagement. This combination of approaches — interviewing participants in person and collecting responses from a diverse group that accurately reflects the characteristics of Indiana’s overall population — makes the study particularly unique.
A questionnaire covering topics such as exposure to environmental contaminants and attitudes toward mental health treatment is part of the study. Residents also will have the opportunity to discuss their social networks and provide a saliva sample for DNA collection.
"The Indiana University Precision Health Initiative is dedicated to curing and preventing diseases that are devastating for Hoosiers and their families," said Bernice Pescosolido, IU distinguished professor of Sociology, who leads the study. "The Person-to-Person Study will help us understand the factors that contribute to life-threatening conditions, and empower health professionals and individuals who seek effective treatment."
Participation in the study helps advance science and the understanding of the health and well-being of Indiana residents. Information gained from person-to-person interviews will help researchers study how biological information, behaviors, environment and social networks are related to health outcomes.
With support from the center, I.U. researchers have already conducted several surveys with rural Indiana residents, including a focus on their attitudes regarding mental health and substance abuse and, most recently, attitudes toward and awareness of available treatment options for opioid use disorders. This work is being used to help researchers with Precision Health and other Grand Challenge initiatives improve outreach to rural communities.
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The IU Precision Health Grand Challenge initiative is Indiana University’s big health care solution. Led by the I.U. School of Medicine, the precision health team is working to prevent and cure diseases through a more precise understanding of the genetic, behavioral and environmental factors that influence a person’s health, with bold goals to cure one cancer and one childhood disease and to prevent one chronic illness and one neurodegenerative disease.
The IU Center for Rural Engagement improves the lives of Hoosiers through collaborative initiatives that discover and deploy scalable and flexible solutions to common challenges facing rural communities. Working in full-spectrum community innovation through research, community-engaged teaching and student service, the center builds vision, harnesses assets and cultivates sustainable leadership structures within the communities with which it engages to ensure long-term success.
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For information, visit precisionhealth.iu.edu/current-studies/index.html