UW News

October 21, 2004

Rural Health Research Center funded for additional four years, new projects

The WWAMI Rural Health Research Center has been re-funded for an additional four years by the federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Led by principal investigator Dr. Gary Hart, the center is one of eight nationally, and one of only two Rural Health Research Centers (RHRCs) to have been continuously funded since 1988. The multidisciplinary center is based in the Research Section of the UW School of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine and covers Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho (the WWAMI area).

The center conducts national, regional and state policy-oriented research relevant to rural health care. It has produced more than 135 articles and 90 working papers that have been distributed to policy-makers regionally and nationally. The majority of projects conducted to date have focused on:

—the training and supply of rural health care providers and the content and outcomes of the care they provide

—the availability and quality of care for rural women and children, including obstetric and perinatal care, and

—access to high-quality care for vulnerable and minority rural populations.

During the next four-year cycle, the RHRC will emphasize projects related to the rural health workforce, Hart said. Three national projects will be conducted with this year’s funding:

—Which Medical Schools Produce Rural Physicians?

(led by Drs. Gary Hart and Freddy Chen)

—Long-term Trends in Characteristics of the Rural Nurse Workforce (led by Dr. Eric H. Larson)

—The Burden of Chronic Illness among Rural Residents: A National Study (led by Dr. Mark Doescher)

A supplemental grant to the center from the federal Office of Rural Health Policy is currently funding the production of a chartbook that summarizes survey responses from 453 family practice residency directors concerning the volume, location and types of rural family medicine residency training. Another supplemental grant is funding an update of the Rural-Urban Commuting Area (RUCA) codes, which help classify ZIP codes and census tracts across the nation by their level of rurality. For more information about the RHRC or to receive a list of its publications, please contact Denise Lishner at lishner@u.washington.edu or access the Web site at