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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

East Tennessee Project Funded by BlueCross BlueShield

The Tennessee Institute of Public Health (TNIPH) and the Rural and Appalachian Health Collaborative, both at the East Tennessee State University College of Public Health have been awarded a grant from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation to develop a Model to Interrupt Social Determinants of Rural Health in Hancock County, Tennessee.

[Photo: Dr. Ginny Kidwell (left) and Dr. Paula Masters]

This collaborative project will focus on Hancock County, Tennessee, one of the poorest counties in the Nation and one of the least healthy counties in Tennessee. Working with local partners, the research team will evaluate the social determinants of health in Hancock County, especially how they relate to community capacity, community readiness, and levels of willingness to create a culture of health.

“It is widely recognized that personal behaviors account for the greatest proportion of early death in this nation, so health promotion and prevention strategies are essential in improving health. Where we live really does matter, so education about healthy habits is especially critical in areas with more serious population health challenges,” said Dr. Ginny Kidwell, Executive Director of the Institute and a member of the Collaborative.

Dr. Ginny Kidwell will serve as principal investigator for the grant. She is joined by Dr. Paula Masters, Assistant Dean for Student Services in the East Tennessee State University College of Public Health, who will serve as co-principal investigator. Dr. Kate Beatty, assistant professor in the department of health services management and policy, and Dr. Megan Quinn, assistant professor in the department of biostatistics and epidemiology, will also serve on the project team.

Hancock County is ranked by the Robert Wood Johnson County Rankings as one of the most health-challenged counties in Tennessee.  It ranks 93 out of the 95 Tennessee counties for poor health factors including poor health behaviors, limited access to clinical care, and social and economic factors.

The team will work with local partners to attempt to better understand the beliefs, perceptions and intentions of rural Hancock County and how these can impact health.

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation aims to support projects that reflect the foundation’s mission and emphasize healthy living, health care access and quality of life. It funds projects that emphasize solutions and be easy to measure, serve a need for a large population, promote community involvement and participation that can be replicated, and connect multiple diverse organizations, causes and groups of individuals.