Improving the Wellness of Veterans and Military Members in Rural Areas

1/19/2022 5:08:00 AM

Illinois Joining Forces logoAcademic mentor: Chung-Yi Chiu

Community partner: Illinois Joining Forces

Project description: 
Rural Veterans, military members, and their families (RVM) experience challenges improving their wellness in rural areas due to limited access to health, housing, transportation, employment, and community participation. Interestingly, wellness service providers also experience challenges reaching out to RVM. Those providers want to serve the RVM better and more. This shows that there are some discrepancies among their communication and partnership.

After conducting deep interviews with RVM and wellness service providers to learn how to solve their challenges, we aim to collaborate with them to develop evaluations and educational materials for each party. The aim of the evaluations and educational materials is to diagnose and optimize their mutual interaction and partnership.

We will analyze the RVM interview transcriptions to develop the RVM evaluation of how and to what extent they will search, identify, apply, and secure their needed services. We will analyze the service providers' interview transcriptions to develop the evaluation of how and to what extent they reach out, serve, and follow up with their RVM clients. We will apply community-based participatory research to enhance the face validity, content validity, construct validity, and feasibility of those evaluations and educational materials. We will invite the RVM and wellness service providers as an advisory board to comment on the evaluations and educational materials. Other research methods include content analysis and measurement psychometrics.

Role of the Community-Academic Scholar:
The Community-Academic Scholar will assist with recruitment, community networking, interview transcriptions, transcription analyses, evaluation item development, educational material development,  and literature searches, and will participate in weekly lab meetings. In addition to regularly participating in research team meetings and activities, the scholar will meet on a weekly basis with the community partner to reach out to and recruit qualified rural veterans and community service providers serving rural veterans.  Through the community reach-out activities, the student will learn how community practitioners (IJF and others) interact with rural veterans and their families and will leverage feedback from these important stakeholders to improve research study design.