RTC:Rural staff will share rural health care survey findings at NARRTC conference

April 17, 2019

On April 23, Dr. Meredith Repke, RTC:Rural Research Associate, will present findings from the Rural Access to Health Insurance and Health Care study, a partnership between RTC:Rural and the Collaborative on Health Reform and Independent Living (CHRIL), at the 2019 NARRTC conference. This year’s conference theme is “Inclusive Disability Research and Practice: Building on our History.” The study is being led by RTC:Rural Director Dr. Catherine Ipsen. 

Repke is presenting as part of a panel of researchers on the project who are sharing different findings from the 2018 National Survey on Health Reform and Disability (NSHRD). CHRIL conducted the survey to understand how changes in health care reimbursement strategies affect working-age people with disabilities in terms of access to health insurance, as well as associated health care and quality of life outcomes. RTC:Rural researchers helped recruit people with disabilities from rural areas, and will use their data to answer some rural-specific questions.

The sample data showed that rural people with disabilities experienced lower rates of employment, less access to transportation, and higher ratings of isolation than their urban counterparts. “What is interesting, however,” said Ipsen, “is that after controlling for these factors, there are additional disparities in health outcomes explained by rural location. Essentially, being rural matters and is worthy of additional research and understanding.”

“For me, the most interesting finding from the initial survey was the very strong association between satisfaction with community participation, feelings of isolation, and health outcomes, particularly among rural people with disabilities,” said Ipsen. “Follow-up surveys will help us understand the directionality of these relationships. We can say, however, that a one unit change in a 5-item rating of satisfaction with community participation is associated with a 3.6 day reduction in the number of days in the last 30 days, that physical and mental health prevented usual activities. This is a big impact – no matter the direction.”

“I’m looking forward to sharing our findings with the NARRTC community,” said Repke. “We hope that highlighting the unique experience of rural people with disabilities will lead to more conversation around health-promotion strategies for this group.”

“The RTC:Rural collaboration with CHRIL provides a unique opportunity to extend research focusing and informed by rural people with disabilities,” said Ipsen. “The CHRIL is planning to conduct additional surveys, where we can track existing respondents, as well as recruit additional rural participants. This will allow us to tell a richer story about health care access, insurance access, and other social determinants of health, such as social supports, community engagement, access to transportation, and employment,” said Ipsen.