Research Prioritization

IHHS Research Prioritization

Research Priority Areas 2018 - 2020

The Blue Cross NC Institute for Health and Human Services prioritizes areas based on regional health needs, expertise of faculty in the Beaver College of Health Sciences, as well as other Colleges at Appalachian, and available alliances with community partners. Within the designated priority areas, the Institute will make every effort to support contributory research development. Prioritization may be in the form of additional internal support (financial, work support, student support), as well as advocacy for support from the College and the University. We will also prioritize support for publishing research and submitting external grant applications. Priority areas may change from year to year but are established with the goal of building long-term, programmatic, impactful research and collaborations to address the regional needs.

Priority Areas

Physical Activity & Nutrition

Our rural, mountain landscape creates geographical barriers, on top of socio-economic barriers to accessing appropriate physical activity and nutrition. This impacts health broadly and increases the rates of obesity and diabetes so prevalent in our region. Research on methods to increase physical activity, improve healthy eating/nutrition, and increasing access to assessment and preventive care resources fall under this priority area. Research focusing on related problems and disorders, such as obesity and diabetes education, prevention, assessment, and treatment fall under this priority, as well.

 Autism and Significant Disabilities

 Autism and other developmental disabilities have become a growing concern in our region with a lack of supporting services to assess and manage the needs of individuals and families. The Institute currently has one large training grant in this area (over $1 million) that is inter-collegiate and inter-disciplinary. We have faculty with expertise in these areas and a strong network of regional collaborators and families to support efforts for research, education, and clinical training, creating an ideal set up for high impact work.

 Aging and Adult Rural Health

 With the rapidly growing aging population, numerous issues surrounding healthy aging and care of the elderly have arisen. Faculty in the BCHS and across Appalachian are working to address these issues from the biochemical and cellular muscular level all the way out to elder care and long-term care support. We have established and/or are establishing collaborations with regional entities focused on care of the aging population. The Institute will provide support as available to further these efforts from basic science to bedside.

Rural Health Disparities

"Rural health" and "disparities" are terms that, unfortunately, seem almost redundant. This does not have to be the case, however.  Academic, public, and private partnerships are growing throughout Appalachia and achieving positive outcomes through creativity, resilience, and collaboration. Research promoting, supporting, and measuring the effects of programs designed to improve access to better health education, health training, and health care are ongoing and growing in the IHHS.

 *Sustainability is critical throughout these priority areas. Our goal is to create sustainable projects, programs, and collaborations to provide lasting impact on our region. This includes internal development through student training, as well as external development throughout our communities.