Interdisciplinary Network on Rural Population Health and Aging

Project: Research project

Project Details


Project Summary U.S. population aging is occurring more rapidly in rural than in urban areas, rural areas are home to disproportionate shares of older and sicker people, and rural-urban and within-rural disparities in health and mortality are growing. New approaches to researching rural health and aging are needed that recognize that rural America is not monolithic, it contains both resilient and vulnerable places, and its problems are multilevel and multidimensional. The Interdisciplinary Network on Rural Population Health and Aging (INRPHA) will forge new collaborations between scientists who study health and aging with others who focus on spatial disparities and rural well-being. We will bring together dynamic clusters of scientists and recruit emerging, established, and underrepresented researchers from multiple institutions across the U.S. to catalyze a new generation of research on rural U.S. population health and aging. We will leverage a well-established USDA-supported national consortium of researchers (W4001) that has been at the forefront of providing timely and policy-relevant evidence on demographic trends in rural America. In addition, health and aging researchers and the institutional assets within the proposed Network’s four lead universities – Penn State, Syracuse Univ., Univ. of Mississippi, and Univ. of Colorado, Boulder – constitute a pool of expertise poised to provide novel, interdisciplinary, and regionally- attuned understandings of social and spatial determinants of rural population health, health disparities, and aging. The project’s aims are to (1) develop an open and evolving network that draws participants from multiple regions, institutions, disciplines, career stages, and underrepresented groups; (2) design activities to generate innovative research by enhancing the collective capacity of Network members and supporting formative research through pilot grants, working groups, annual meetings, and training materials; and (3) conduct novel research to: a) understand the multilevel and multidimensional mechanisms driving rural-urban continuum and within-rural disparities in health and aging, b) detail the impacts of aging trends on rural communities, c) analyze the intersection of rural economic livelihoods, health, and aging, d) examine the impacts of physical and social isolation on cognitive health (including Alzheimer’s disease) and healthy aging in rural areas, and e) understand relationships between environmental hazards and climate change for rural older adults. We will also attend to intersections between race, rurality, and health and aging outcomes and how these relationships vary across regional, state, and local contexts. A final aim is to (4) disseminate data, analytic resources, and research findings to academic, policy, and public audiences through research briefs, webinars, data archiving, and other mechanisms. Through INRPHA’s activities, emphasis is placed on developing a sustainable foundation to support continued innovative, publicly-accessible, and impactful research on rural population health and aging.
Effective start/end date9/30/196/30/23


  • National Institute on Aging: $321,220.00
  • National Institute on Aging: $320,830.00
  • National Institute on Aging: $138,243.00
  • National Institute on Aging: $372,674.00


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