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Rural Institute program evaluation services are growing.


Current Projects

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Improving behavioral health resources access for Montana’s children

The Rural Institute provides evaluation support to Montana Access to Pediatric Psychiatry Network (MAPP-Net). Support includes ongoing needs assessment, project outcome evaluation, and quality-improvement evaluation. The MAPP-Net project is a partnership with the Billings Clinic and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.

Contact:     Kaitlin Fertaly

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Evaluating Montana’s maternal supports

The Rural Institute is the research and evaluation partner for the Montana Obstetrics and Maternal Supports Evaluation (MOMS) program. The MOMS program:

  • Aims to improve maternal health outcomes, including the prevention and reduction of maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity
  • Establishes a state-focused Maternal Health Task Force
  • Improves state-level data surveillance
  • Promotes and executes innovation in maternal health service delivery

 Contact:     Annie Glover

Identifying barriers to postpartum contraception

An estimated 40% of patients do not show up for their 6-week postpartum appointment (ACOG Committee Opinion No. 736, 2018), thus limiting access to postpartum contraception. Having access to contraception immediately after delivery helps overcome the barrier of having an appointment to get contraception.

The Montana Obstetrics and Maternal Support (MOMS) project is researching the following questions:

  • What are the general attitudes and beliefs toward contraception?
  • What do providers say are the primary barriers and facilitators to providing immediate postpartum contraception?

Contact:     Annie Glover

The Montana Obstetrics and Maternal Support (MOMS) project housed at Billings Clinic has partnered with One Health and Tree of Life Doula Services to train recovery doulas. The training program focuses on improving maternal and infant health outcomes in Montana.

The Rural Institute will evaluate the success of the recovery doula program.

Contact:     Annie Glover

The Montana Obstetrics and Maternal Support (MOMS) project is conducting a survey to assess patient experiences related to prenatal, delivery, and postpartum care. The survey focuses on rural maternity experiences, decision-making, respectful patient-provider interactions, and perceptions of racism or discrimination. The study results will inform future MOMS program priorities and activities.

Contact:     Carly Holman

Montana has 34 critical access hospitals without an obstetric unit. Due to distance to care, pregnant people in rural communities might seek care or deliver at one of these non-birthing hospitals. Limited information is available on emergency obstetric services at hospitals without obstetric units. Montana decided to assess emergency obstetric services through the Montana Obstetrics and Maternal Support (MOMS) project. The information will identify ways to support rural hospitals without regular obstetric services to provide care for emergency births.

Contact:     Annie Glover

Evaluating rape prevention efforts in Montana

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Rape Prevention Education (RPE) grant funds the Montana Sexual Violence Prevention and Victim Services (SVPVS) program. The SVPVS program aims to reduce sexual violence through prevention efforts such as teaching skills, supporting women, and creating protective environments. Annie Glover is the principal investigator of the project.

Contact:     Annie Glover

Evaluating HIV services and supports in Montana

The purpose of the HIV and Hepatitis C (HCV) needs assessment is to understand the HIV/HCV testing, prevention, and treatment needs of people living in Montana. Specifically, information from this assessment will be used to:

  • Understand the landscape of HIV/HCV care in Montana
  • Identify barriers to accessing and maintaining HIV and HCV prevention, testing and treatment services
  • Improve the HIV and HCV care continuum in Montana

Contact:     Kaitlin Fertaly

Evaluating the Community Health Worker Program

Partnership Health Center, All Nations Health Center, and the Missoula City-County Public Health Department are working together to improve health equity and support community resiliency.

The three-year Community Health Worker (CHW) Program will connect marginalized groups (low-income families, people experiencing homelessness, people with an increased risk of COVID-19, and the Indigenous population) with health and social support services in Missoula.

The Rural Institute will evaluate the program. The evaluation will include input from program managers, community health workers, and community residents. Data will be collected through interviews, focus groups, and participant observation. The evaluation will be used to understand CHW program outcomes, make recommendations for improvement, and improve access to services among marginalized groups.

Contact:     Kaitlin Fertaly

Investigating the needs of Montana’s DIS workforce

The Rural Institute Evaluation Team will conduct a needs assessment to describe the current disease intervention specialist (DIS) workforce in Montana and identify training needs.

The needs assessment will be conducted through interviews and surveys with 59 county and tribal public health departments. The survey will assess DIS workforce needs such as the number of positions, number of vacancies, and training needs.

Contact:     Kaitlin Fertaly

Improving agency capacity to implement multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS)

Facilitate periodic agency capacity assessments and action planning to improve MTSS implementation as part of Montana's statewide personnel development grant initiative.

Contact:     Kari Harris

Past Projects

A family-centered app to improve collaborative healthcare decision making

2018 - 2020 

The Rural Institute partnered with Montana Pediatrics and several funders to develop the Montana Pediatric Medical Passport, or MP2. MP2 is a cloud-based app that facilitates communication at critical health-need moments, such as emergency room visits, to improve care coordination for children with disabilities. MP2 uses telemedicine to bring healthcare providers and families together to make medical decisions. 

The MP2 team surveyed over 300 families and 250 healthcare providers across Montana to gather insight about app features and functions. The information was incorporated into an app prototype.


Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) in high-need schools

2016 – 2020

The Rural Institute served as the Project Evaluator for the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) Montana Behavioral Initiative (MBI) implementation in high need schools. We provided process and outcome evaluation, and assisted with general program evaluation activities.


Identified the need for home visits for pregnant women & families with children 5 and under

2019 - 2020

The Rural Institute completed a one-year state contract to assess the Montana Healthy Families (MHF) Home Visiting Program which supports voluntary home visiting services for at-risk pregnant women and parents with young children.

Contact:     Kaitlin Fertaly

Assessed Montana’s maternal & child health population needs, & the capacity to meet those needs

2019 – 2020

The Rural Institute was awarded a one-year state contract to assess the Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Services Block Grant Program. Title V MCH Block Grant is a federal program that provides support for improving the health and well-being of mothers, children (including children with special health care needs), and their families.

In Montana, Title V Maternal and Child Health programs are managed by the state’s Department of Public Health and Human Services. The need assessment:

  • Reviewed the health needs of Montana’s mothers, children, and families
  • Examined statewide capacity to address these needs and identified priorities for the coming 5 years
  • Provided a benchmark for states to assess their progress during the previous 5 years

Contact:     Kaitlin Fertaly

Assessed the need for and access to primary healthcare services across the state

2020 – 2021

The purpose of the Montana Primary Care Needs Assessment was to better understand the performance and challenges of the primary health care system in Montana.

The Montana Primary Care Office (PCO), a part of the Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS), works to increase and maintain access to primary and preventative health care to improve the health outcomes of underserved and vulnerable populations. The Rural Institute worked with the PCO to conduct a 5-year needs assessment. The assessment evaluated the primary care needs of Montana’s vulnerable groups including the aging population, veterans, and the uninsured. The needs assessment also examined the health care workforce in Montana.

Contact:     Kaitlin Fertaly