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Arnold School of Public Health

Rural Health and Minority Research Center awarded $2.8 million from Health Resources & Services Administration

September 10, 2020 | Erin Bluvas,

Jan Eberth (director) and Elizabeth Crouch (deputy director), co-principal investigators for the Arnold School’s Rural and Minority Health Research Center, have been awarded funding to support the Center for another four years. The $2.8 million grant from the Health Services Resources & Services Administration’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, funds seven rural health research centers across the country.

The mission of the rural health research center program is to conduct rural research to help health providers and policymakers better understand the challenges faced by rural communities and develop solutions (e.g., enhanced healthcare access and delivery) to improve population health. UofSC’s Center works to do address these problems for both rural and minority populations.

Established 20 years ago as the South Carolina Rural Health Research Center, the Center’s work has naturally grown to include the concerns of racial/minority groups and was renamed in 2018 to reflect that expansion. That same year, long-time director and Distinguished Professor Emerita Jan Probst handed the leadership reins over to Eberth, with Crouch serving as deputy director.

“This is our Center’s twentieth anniversary year,” Eberth says. “Through the years, our Center has been known for its dedication to studying the intersection of race and place. With this grant renewal, our Center looks forward to continuing this legacy, while also expanding our partnerships with historically Black colleges and universities and the UofSC system campuses to promote health equity and research training statewide.”

The Center’s goals include developing methods and conducting research necessary to provide a clear picture of health status, healthcare needs, and health services utilization patterns of rural and minority populations. They also investigate the effectiveness of policies aimed at improving health and reducing barriers to care among rural and minority populations, especially those living in poverty. In pursuing these goals, the Center seeks to develop collaborations among researchers, public health practitioners, and policymakers across the state.  

Some of their current and recent projects include using geospatial modelling to estimate childhood obesity at the county level, cancer (e.g., lung, colon, cervical) screening education and uptake, cancer prevention and control in rural hospitals and health clinics, and the impact of rural hospital closures on community health outcomes and access to care. Recent publications have examined issues such as the development of a comprehensive obesogenic environment index, disparities in declining mortality rates between urban and rural children, predictors of lung cancer screening utilization, and rural-urban differences in positive childhood experiences.  

“This funding will enable our center to  continue our mission to illuminate and address the persistent health and social inequities experienced by rural and minority populations in America working with a multidisciplinary team of researchers across the university,” Crouch says.


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Nearly two decades after its inception, South Carolina Rural Health Research Center gets new name and new leadership

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