ETSU’s Center for Rural Health Research releases 3rd annual report

Published 9:59 am Monday, July 17, 2023

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JOHNSON CITY – Since its founding in 2019, East Tennessee State University’s Center for Rural Health Research in the College of Public Health has secured more than $12 million in funding from national, state and regional partners to research issues that impact our communities.
Over the past year, CRHR has added eight additional funding sources totaling $1.5 million. This is highlighted in the center’s third annual report, which was released this month.
A collaboration between Ballad Health and ETSU, with support from the state, the center was formally announced by Governor Bill Lee in 2019, as part of his efforts to improve the lives of people living in Tennessee’s most rural counties. The center is home to 31 full- and part-time faculty, staff and graduate assistants. 
“As a center we are defined by our people. Our successes over this past year highlight their dedication, their amazing skills, and their ongoing commitment to our communities, our region and to rural jurisdictions around the nation,” said Director Michael Meit.  “Our continued growth, in terms of both faculty and research support, is a direct result of the stellar reputation they have helped to create.”
CRHR serves Appalachia and the nation through research and evaluation projects designed to improve the health and well-being of rural residents. The Appalachian Highlands, the 21 counties in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, remain the core focus of the Center’s work, highlighted by the STRONG (Striving Toward Resilience and Opportunity for the Next Generation) partnership with Ballad Health.
Over the past year, CRHR faculty and staff have published more than 20 articles in national research journals such as the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice, Journal of Community Health, and Journal of Appalachian Health. CRHR faculty have also presented research at more than 60 conferences and events, such as the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) Annual Conference, Council of State Governments and Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Conference, among several others.
The center has developed partnerships with community organizations, such as Rural Resources in Greeneville, Tennessee, which runs a teen training program that teaches skills in food productions, livestock management, kitchen skills, employment and wellness. CRHR will spend the next year conducting qualitative interviews and review data to document program outcomes.
CRHR is also collaborating with Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia and the Appalachia Service Project to examine drinking water contamination and associated health outcomes in Wise and Lee counties in Southwest Virginia.
In addition to local partners, the center is also supporting a number of statewide and nationwide initiatives, including a collaboration with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to examine rural public health emergency preparedness.
To view the full report, visit

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