West Virginia Rural Health Research Center

Completed Projects

Listed by project completion date. You can also view these projects alphabetically.


  • Agricultural Health: Current Knowledge and Future Directions
    The health of rural populations is impacted by many factors, of which agricultural activities are one of the most important. Agriculture potentially impacts health through a variety of means, including exposures to pesticides and fertilizers, dust from fields or harvesting, accidents and injuries, or contaminants from animal feed lots including antibiotics, hormones or animal waste. There are also issues facing special populations such as migrant workers, and potential agricultural risks facing children and families of workers.
    Topic: Environmental and agricultural health
  • Promotion and Protection of Rural Miner Health: Are the Resources in Place?
    Miners are exposed to various potentially harmful agents and dangerous work conditions, and may have difficulty accessing care in some rural settings. The study aims to 1) Locate and map mining communities in the US and rural safety net providers (RHCs, FQHCs and Critical Access Hospitals) in those communities; and 2) Identify environmental health competencies (specifically related to miner health) in rural primary care providers practicing in identified mining communities.
    Topics: Environmental and agricultural health, Health services, Public health
  • Recent Rates of Black Lung Disease in Relation to Black Lung Treatment Centers
    Recent evidence indicates that black lung disease among coal miners, after a long period of declining incidence, has begun to increase. This increase is disturbing because safety standards, if adhered to faithfully, should be able to prevent most black lung disease from occurring. The reasons for the increase are not known, although evidence has revealed that the mines most likely to show increases are smaller coal mines located in some areas of central Appalachia, and there are concerns that safety regulations at these smaller mines may not be practiced with complete fidelity.
    Topic: Public health
  • Rural H1N1 Experience
    This project aims to describe the rural H1N1 experience, including comparisons of rural vs. urban H1N1 vaccination rates, and describe rural H1N1 incidence, care patterns, and mortality. Additionally, through key stakeholder interviews, we will describe the rural needs in decisions relative to H1N1 vaccine distribution.
    Topic: Public health


  • Agricultural Medicine Training for Rural America
    The purpose of the research is to identify the availability and characteristics of agricultural medicine training opportunities for health care professionals. Agricultural workers and their families face numerous threats to health and safety, and yet there is limited information on health care expertise in place to recognize and prevent threats, and to diagnosis and treat agriculturally-related injury and illness.
    Topic: Environmental and agricultural health
  • Cancer Hospitalizations in Rural-Urban Areas in Relation to Carcinogenic Discharges from Toxics Release Inventory Facilities
    The purpose of the research is to understand whether discharges of carcinogens from Toxics Release Inventory facilities are related to higher cancer hospitalization rates in rural and urban settings. Evidence for this association will have potential implications for improvements to environmental policy or policies for improved cancer detection and treatment in rural settings.
    Topics: Cancer, Chronic diseases and conditions, Diabetes, Environmental and agricultural health, Hospitals and clinics, Public health
  • Childhood Asthma and Air Quality in Rural-Urban Areas
    This study will examine the prevalence of childhood asthma across urban and rural settings. We will examine how asthma may be related to measures of ambient air quality, as well as how asthma may be related to agricultural activity of different types, to proximity to metropolitan areas, and to measures of demographics and health care insurance.
    Topics: Children and adolescents, Environmental and agricultural health
  • Environmental Workforce Characteristics in the Rural Public Health Sector
    Environmental risks to rural populations are understudied relative to urban areas despite increasing recognition that rural populations are potentially exposed to these risks from agricultural, mining, industrial or other sources. This project analyzes the environmental workforce characteristics of the rural public health sector to inform policy relative to coordination of rural environmental health services.
    Topics: Environmental and agricultural health, Public health
  • Water Quality Issues in Rural-Urban Areas: The Good (Fluoridation), the Bad (Chemical Pollutants) and the Ugly (Health Consequences)
    This study will investigate the availability of fluoridated water across urban-rural settings, and relate measures of fluoride availability to survey measures of dental health. The study will also investigate rural population exposure to chemical pollutants in surface water by measuring volumes and types of discharges from EPA-recognized water pollution sources, including sources located in rural areas and in upstream urban areas, and relating these measures to population health outcomes.
    Topics: Environmental and agricultural health, Public health


  • Rural Food Security, Food Availability, and Health Outcomes
    This project will examine the characteristics of food security and food availability across the rural-urban continuum. The study will test the hypotheses that food insecurity will differ significantly between rural and urban counties in the U.S. with rural areas experiencing more adverse conditions; and that there will be a significant relationship between food insecurity, food availability and selected adverse health outcomes in non-metropolitan counties in the U.S.
    Topic: Obesity
  • Rural Socioeconomic Risk and Resiliency Inventory and Associated Health Outcomes
    This study will create a national inventory of social and economic risks and resiliencies for every county in the nation, and relate those risks to health outcome data. The study will test whether rural areas with fewer risks and greater resiliencies are related to better health outcomes.
    Topics: Environmental and agricultural health, Poverty


  • Key Environmental Competencies for Rural Primary Care Providers
    This study will develop, from existing single discipline standards, a competency guide that will address competencies that are essential for providing environmentally conscious care. The study will then systematically evaluate content validity, completeness and clarity of the competencies.
    Topics: Environmental and agricultural health, Public health
  • Toxics Release Inventory Sites and Population Health across Rural and Urban Areas
    Previous research has identified higher mortality rates in rural areas in association with exposure to pollution sources. This study conducts mortality outcome analyses specific to discharges from Toxics Release Inventory sites across the spectrum of rural to urban settings.
    Topics: Environmental and agricultural health, Public health


  • Rural Environmental Hazards Inventory and Associated Health Outcomes
    This study will create a national inventory of potential environmental hazards for rural populations. Population health outcomes such as CDC mortality statistics will be examined to determine if poor health outcomes are related to greater exposures to potential hazards.
    Topics: Environmental and agricultural health, Health promotion and disease prevention, Public health, Transportation