Person-to-person health interviews expanding to rural Indiana communities

Includes Washington County
BLOOMINGTON -- 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.
This is a large and important study that could have major impacts on understanding of factors that lead to life-threatening conditions and identifying effective treatments for Indiana residents.
As part of this effort, IU researchers have selected a scientifically representative sample of Indiana households to receive interview invitations. The study began in late 2018 in Marion County and is now expanding to rural communities across the state, including Washington County.
Credentialed interviewers will be visiting residents, discussing the project and answering residents’ questions. 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.
“Researchers are actively reaching out to local residents that the study has identified to participate in these interviews,” explained Kyla Cox Deckard, director of communications for the Center for Rural Engagement. “Some people in the community might be wondering why they are being contacted or unsure of the nature of this project, and we are hoping we can get strong participation and create an understanding of the importance of this unique study.”
A questionnaire covering topics such as exposure to environmental contaminants and attitudes toward mental health treatment is part of the study. Residents will also 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 IU Center for Rural Engagement, IU 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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