Linking Family Health to Housing Environment

A session at The Priester National Extension Health Conference

Wednesday 11th April, 2012

4:00pm to 6:00pm (EST)

Jessica Kropczynski, MPA
Department of Sociology
University of Kentucky

Patricia H. Dyk, Ph.D.
Dept of Community & Leadership Development
University of Kentucky

Kimberly Greder, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Human Development and Family Studies
Family Life Extension and Outreach Specialist
Iowa State University

Christine Cook, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Human Development and Family Studies
Iowa State University

The relationship between family health and housing in rural communities is complex and often overlooked in partnerships designed to serve low-income families. Impoverished rural families face multiple and severe housing hardships and the link between substandard housing and poor health continues to be corroborated. The communities in which poor families live also often thwart families’ opportunities to sustain healthy lifestyles. More translational research is needed to better understand the role of housing and communities in promoting healthy behaviors and to better equip professionals providing services to rural low-income families.

This study examines the influence of housing on the health of 130 rural low-income mothers and children in Iowa and Kentucky. We identify and examine the relationship between factors influencing rural family health including environmental (dwelling and locality) and family characteristics linked to individual mental and physical health outcomes while considering the forms of available assistance. The research seeks to answer two overarching questions: What environmental factors help us best understand variations in rural family health? What are the implications for community-based professionals seeking to foster a healthy housing environment to promote the well-being of rural low income families?

Understanding these variations brings attention to the welfare pluralism that exists in rural areas. Defined as the mix of health care provision from different sectors – the marketplace, employers, voluntary agencies, and informal networks – welfare pluralism must be acknowledged and understood. Consideration of this pluralism will help to foster collaborations among groups dedicated to serve rural populations.

Our Research/Extension team is comprised of a doctoral student in Sociology, a research professor in community development and two professors of human development and family studies, one of whom is an Extension and Outreach Specialist who has developed programs to address rural health needs of low-income rural families.

About the speakers

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Kim Greder

Extension Specialist and Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, Iowa State University

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Michelle Ihmels
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Janie Burney

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Time 4:00pm6:00pm EST

Date Wed 11th April 2012

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