Developing and Using a Classification Schema to Identify Sentinel Communities in the U.S.

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2003
Project completed:
September 2007

The purpose of this project is to develop a template for identifying communities in the United States that would be eligible for inclusion in the Sentinel Communities Project of the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) to study the impact of multi-sector policies at the local level. Health policy will be a cornerstone of the RUPRI project, the goal of which is to apply the best techniques of research to developing approaches to improve policies in multiple sectors (e.g., health, human services, transportation, economic development, etc.) for the purpose of creating sustainable rural communities offering optimal quality of life for the residents of those communities. The Sentinel Communities Project will enable rural researchers to track the effect of current policies on rural communities, anticipate the effect of proposed policies, and demonstrate policy effects that link one sector to another.

This project has two levels of analysis. First, project staff will define "communities." Following the previous work of RUPRI Center investigators, political jurisdictions will not be relied upon to define rural communities. Instead, the language of rural "place" will be used in a manner parallel to how vulnerable places have been defined in the Center's work. The second level of analysis will describe each place using a set of variables. A detailed project report, a policy paper, and a policy brief will be produced.

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