Current Projects from All Research Centers

Browse all of the research projects still underway. Learn more about the research questions guiding each study, the lead researcher for each, and when the Research Center anticipates releasing completed product(s) under each project. Current projects are listed by the date they were funded by the Federal Office of Rural Healthy Policy.

Projects Funded September 2018 - (33)

Projects Funded September 2017 - (19)

  • A Chartbook of Rural Population Health
    North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center
    This project creates a chartbook of population health for rural areas. This resource is designed to allow policymakers and practitioners to better understand rural-urban disparities across a wide variety of population health indicators.
  • Acuity Differences Among Newly Admitted Rural and Urban Nursing Home Residents
    Maine Rural Health Research Center
    This study will use nursing home assessment data to examine rural-urban differences in resident acuity upon admission; whether differences persist among newly admitted Medicare and non-Medicare residents; and whether and how nursing home, local health system, and market characteristics are associated with differences in resident acuity.
  • Creating County- and Census Tract-Level Estimates of Childhood Obesity in the U.S.: A Spatial Multilevel Modeling Approach
    Rural and Minority Health Research Center
    Using the 2016 National Survey of Children's Health, spatial multilevel models will be constructed to estimate county- and Census tract-level rates of childhood obesity in the U.S. Particular emphasis will be placed on rural areas, for which direct estimates are often unavailable because of small sample sizes in population-based surveys.
  • Do Rural Breast and Colorectal Cancer Patients Present at More Advanced Disease Stages than Their Urban Counterparts?
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Access to recommended cancer screening is more difficult for rural residents than their urban counterparts. This study uses the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program (SEER) data to examine the extent to which rural residents present at more advanced disease stages for breast and colorectal cancer diagnosis than urban residents.
  • Health Care Use and Access Among Rural and Urban Elderly Medicare Beneficiaries
    Maine Rural Health Research Center
    This project will examine rural-urban differences in healthcare use and access to healthcare services among elderly Medicare enrollees using the 2011-2013 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey. We also will identify the socioeconomic and health factors that may place rural seniors at risk for poor healthcare access.
  • Lung Diseases Among Coal Miners
    Rural and Underserved Health Research Center
    Coal miners are at increased risk of lung diseases. Using secondary datasets, we will assess the distribution of lung diseases across regions, identify patterns of healthcare utilization among miners relative to HRSA-funded Black Lung Clinics, and compare healthcare utilization patterns, behaviors, and comorbidities among miners and non-miners.
  • Malpractice Claims Among Rural and Urban Providers: Do State Telehealth Laws Make a Difference?
    Southwest Rural Health Research Center
    This project examines trends in state telehealth laws and whether they have affected the rural and urban malpractice environments differentially. Data from the National Practitioner Data Bank are used to determine whether changes in telehealth laws are associated with increased malpractice claims and other adverse actions against providers.
  • Mental Health Treatment Access: How Do Mental Health Treatment Use and Unmet Treatment Need Vary Among Rural and Urban Adults Nationally?
    Rural and Underserved Health Research Center
    This project will estimate the prevalence and policy-modifiable correlates of unmet mental health treatment need and utilization among metropolitan, micropolitan, and other non-metropolitan adults nationally who have a mental health condition. Additionally, the study will investigate the same issues among Native Americans/American Indians.
  • Post-acute Care Trajectories for Rural Medicare Beneficiaries
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Utilization and costs of post-acute care for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries have grown rapidly during the last decade. This study will examine post-acute care utilization for rural Medicare beneficiaries following acute hospitalization, describing use of home health and skilled nursing care and trajectories of care across settings.
  • Predictors of Buprenorphine Prescribing by Family Physicians in Rural Areas Nationally
    Rural and Underserved Health Research Center
    This project will examine how physician and practice-level characteristics are associated with family physicians prescribing buprenorphine for opioid use disorder across rural and urban areas. The study will make use of a unique dataset collected among family physicians nationally in 2017.
  • Quality Measures for Skilled Nursing Care in Rural Swing Beds: What Works and What Doesn't?
    Southwest Rural Health Research Center
    This project will provide a systematic review of skilled nursing facility quality measures and how these measures apply to skilled nursing facility-level care provided in rural swing beds in both critical access hospitals and prospective payment system hospitals.
  • Rates of Telemental Health Use Among Rural Medicaid Enrollees: Associations with Telehealth Policy and Mental Health Access
    Rural Telehealth Research Center
    This study will examine telemental health use among rural and urban Medicaid beneficiaries with mental illness. The goals are to: 1) compare rates and patterns of telemental health; 2) assess how use rates are associated with state-level Medicaid telehealth policies; and 3) determine the extent to which telemental health provides access to care.
  • Rural Community Response to Hospital Closure
    RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis
    The Rural Community Response to Hospital Closure project will study how rural communities adapt to local hospital closure. Within selected communities, the project will evaluate the impact of hospital closure on multiple community health-related services and characteristics.
  • Rural Health Clinics Chartbook
    Maine Rural Health Research Center
    This project will produce a comprehensive, descriptive chartbook detailing the characteristics and status of rural health clinics (RHCs) nationally. It will also assess the use of secondary data to construct a national set of indicators for RHCs and identify gaps in our knowledge that cannot be addressed using secondary data.
  • Rural Nursing Workforce: Current Educational Characteristics and Options for Improvement
    Rural and Minority Health Research Center
    This project will examine the current distribution of nurses, subset by educational attainment, across the rural U.S. using data from Census Public Use Microfiles. Then a survey of the approximately 750 registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing (RN-to-BSN) educational programs across the U.S. will identify the proportion of programs offering rural content or facilitating rural placement.
  • Rural-Urban Variation in CMS Hierarchical Condition Categories (HCC) Risk Scores
    North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center
    CMS uses hierarchical condition categories (HCC) to risk-adjust Medicare beneficiaries for multiple conditions. This adjustment is used for multiple programs, but it's unknown whether the adjustment works similarly in rural and urban areas. This project investigates the distribution of beneficiaries' and providers' HCC risk scores across rurality.
  • Understanding Differences in Rural and Urban Adolescent and Young Adult Substance Use
    Maine Rural Health Research Center
    Using National Survey of Drug Use and Health data, we'll examine rural-urban adolescent/young adult substance use differences. While substance use has declined among all adolescents in recent years, it's unclear whether the trends apply to rural adolescents/young adults who have historically higher substance use rates than their urban counterparts.
  • Who Provides Mental Health Services to Rural Medicare Beneficiaries?
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    Most rural counties do not have a psychiatrist to care for the common conditions of depression or anxiety. This study will describe the provider workforce that cares for rural elderly patients with depression/anxiety, including regional and rural-urban variations in mental healthcare provision.
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) 2009 Food Package Revisions on Participants in Rural Areas with Extreme Poverty Levels: Impact on Infant Breastfeeding, Infant Feeding, and Health Outcomes
    Southwest Rural Health Research Center
    This study examines the effects of the revised Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program food packages on breastfeeding rates among WIC participants in areas designated as rural, with high levels of extreme poverty and food deserts, and/or high rates of those who are overweight and obese.

Projects Funded April 2017 - (1)

Projects Funded September 2016 - (6)

Projects Funded September 2015 - (3)

  • Cost of Running a Rural Ambulance Service
    North Dakota and NORC Rural Health Reform Policy Research Center
    This study will address the cost of running ambulance services in rural areas by organizational structure/source of funding, the factors contributing to differences in costs, and factors contributing to differences in financial viability.
  • Rural Health Clinic Financial Performance and Productivity
    Maine Rural Health Research Center
    This study will use Medicare cost reports for independent and provider-based clinics to provide a detailed national picture of the financial and operational performance of RHCs and describe variations in performance related to revenue, costs, staffing, payer mix, productivity levels, and hours of operation across independent and provider-based clinics. The project will also develop measures that can be used to benchmark RHC performance over time.
  • Understanding Rural-Urban Mortality Differences
    Maine Rural Health Research Center
    This study will address rural-urban mortality gaps in our understanding of rural mortality disparities using the 1985-2009 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), linked to national death certificate data, to explore the individual-level characteristics and health behaviors of rural and urban adults and their association with mortality.

Projects Funded September 2014 - (3)

  • Comparisons of Rural Definitions
    North Dakota and NORC Rural Health Reform Policy Research Center
    This project will lead to the creation of a mega rural and frontier website. This website will emphasize the use of various rural definitions and datasets for healthcare policy, policy analysis, and research. Additionally, researchers will review Dartmouth's Primary Care Service Areas (PCSAs), other Rational Service Area (RSA) methodologies, and alternative methodologies related to their strengths, weaknesses, and spatial analytic criteria regarding their ability to serve in the process of developing useful primary care service areas.
  • How Do Costs for Rural Medicare Beneficiaries Using Swing Beds Compare to Those Using Skilled Nursing Facilities?
    North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center
    This study will estimate and compare total Medicare expenditures for episodes of care that include post-acute stays in either swing beds or skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). Results will inform federal and state agencies, rural providers and communities as to how post-acute care in swing bed versus a SNF affects the trajectory of costs and utilization for rural Medicare beneficiaries.
  • What Impact Will Unified GME Accreditation Have on Rural-focused Physician Residencies
    WWAMI Rural Health Research Center
    The impending unification of allopathic and osteopathic graduate medical education (GME) under a single accreditation system has uncertain implications for small and rural-focused residency programs. This proposed study aims to (1) quantify the rural practice outcomes of residencies in rurally-relevant specialties such as pediatrics, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, emergency medicine, surgery, anesthesia, and psychiatry, and (2) interview key stakeholders to identify anticipated challenges of the accreditation merger and potential policies to strengthen vulnerable rural-focused residencies during the transition.

Projects Funded September 2013 - (1)

  • Utilization of Hospital Care for Rural Medicare Beneficiaries
    North Dakota and NORC Rural Health Reform Policy Research Center
    This project examines where rural and frontier Medicare beneficiaries access hospital care. Specifically, it explores the different types of inpatient care sought in local rural communities and at tertiary providers. Beneficiary patterns of care by condition, location type and other factors will be examined. The study will also focus on the bypassing behavior of rural residents when being hospitalized. Analysis sensitivity analyses are being performed regarding small travel time differences per alternative hospitals.

Projects Funded September 2012 - (1)

  • Hospital Readmission Following Care in a Swing Bed
    North Carolina Rural Health Research and Policy Analysis Center
    This study builds on our portfolio of swing bed work by examining the rate of hospital readmission for patients who receive post-acute care in swing beds compared to skilled nursing facilities and will inform the discussion on use, cost, and benefit of swing bed care.

Projects Funded September 2009 - (1)