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UMN Researchers Examine Rural Health Disparities

May 7, 2019

The University of Minnesota's Rural Health Research Center and the Memory Keepers Medical Discovery Team on the university's Duluth campus are partnering to address rural health disparities in Minnesota and nationwide.

"Most research on rural health examines rural-urban differences in health and health care," said Dr. Carrie Henning-Smith, deputy director of RHRC, in an interview with the Minnesota Daily. "However, we know that there is considerable diversity among rural residents.”

The Rural Health Research Center is working to build awareness of the disparities of rural populations while advancing health equity in those communities.

"We've done county-level analyses to identify differences in premature death, an important marker of population health, comparing counties by what racial or ethnic group is the majority population," Henning-Smith said.

Meanwhile, the Medical School’s Memory Keepers Medical Discovery Team has been working to address health disparity issues among the state's American Indian populations.

"The discussions we have had with the tribal communities and service providers in the northern rural regions suggest that dementia is a growing concern," said Kristen Jacklin, PhD, associate director of the medical discovery team. "There is also the recognition of the need for research on the topic to inform the development and delivery of appropriate services and care.”

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