Connecting health resources throughout rural Indiana

Together with community leaders, we have prioritized population health issues to promote the well-being of people in our region, including substance use disorder, obesity and diabetes, infant mortality, tobacco use, mental health, aging-in-place, and chronic disease.

From improving health care access and high patient-to-provider ratios in rural communities to reducing the impact of stigma on substance use disorder treatment, we connect the innovative and data-informed resources of Indiana University and local health and social service organizations throughout rural Indiana.

Faculty discuss ideas at the IU Rural Data Summit

Using data to make healthier communities

We joined the IU School of Public Health and Daviess, Orange, Lawrence, and Martin counties to develop community health improvement plans (CHIPs). In creating CHIPs, communities use their own data to meet a range of health objectives from addressing gaps in services to preventing and treating chronic conditions. These plans consider all dimensions of health, bringing the local agencies to the table, and respond to key questions that inform next steps and opportunities.

Addressing substance use disorder and mental health

What started as a local survey of Lawrence County community attitudes toward issues of substance use disorder, stigma, and mental health conducted by the School of Social Work grew into a state-wide planning process in collaboration with the Indiana Rural Health Association and the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. Additionally, Master of Social Work students surveyed local residents and created a custom educational series for communities and launched a plan to develop a mental health and substance use disorder treatment model for Martin County.

Harnessing technology for aging-in-place

Indiana’s rural communities have limited residential resources designed for seniors. The School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering is examining emerging technology and its potential to improve opportunities for Indiana’s rural senior residents to stay in their homes and communities. Through social networking systems and health monitoring devices that work in remote locations, these technologies could strengthen seniors’ independence and social connections.

Improving maternal health

The School of Public Health launched Project UNITE, a multi-year teen pregnancy intervention initiative to reduce Indiana’s rates of teen pregnancy and birth, which are higher than the national average. The school is also starting a smoking cessation initiative among pregnant patients and their partners to study the most effective approaches to this important health intervention for the entire family.

Create thriving rural communities with us