- Elizabeth Baker, PhD, MPH
- Janice Ballard, MPH
- Carissa van den Berk-Clark, PhD, MSW
Research Project Description
Rural communities in the southeastern corner Missouri, referred to as the Bootheel, experience health and socioeconomic challenges that result in some of the worst health outcomes and poorest access to health and social services in the state. While data highlights the existence of significant health and social service gaps, it does not provide a clear guide for addressing and reversing the situation. Elizabeth Baker and Janice Ballard have spent the last year engaging providers from multiple sectors and the community at large in a “root cause analysis” to investigate the barriers to access and utilization of health and social services, prioritize leverage points for change and develop a set of strategies for action. The assessment was conducted in four counties, including Mississippi and Pemiscot where our IRL project is focused. The data identified a combination of social, organizational and environmental factors that impede access to services. Our findings underscore the importance of helping residents overcome identified barriers (building blocks) while simultaneously using collaborative approaches to eliminate the barriers themselves (tear down fences). Our proposal builds on the resulting collaboration between Missouri Area Health Education Centers (Saint Louis University (SLU)-AHEC; director, Carissa van den Berk-Clark) and One Heart, Many Hands to address these issues by: 1) developing a service navigator/advocate system to improve rural citizens’ current and future experiences with healthcare and social service agencies, and 2) creating an interagency network of clinical/social service providers and community representatives. Our project explores two critical questions: 1) What are the characteristics of the interventions, the organizations, the network, and the environment that influence implementation? 2) What is the impact of these interventions on the navigators, network members, and services? We will conduct a mixed method, in-depth case study, including interviews, surveys, and participant observations. The study will incorporate community and provider knowledge and experiences, examine the factors that influence the integration of health and social services, and has the capacity to directly influence system changes that are needed to promote equity and a culture of health.
Elizabeth Baker, PhD, MPH
Dr. Baker is a Professor in the Department of Behavioral Science and Health Education at Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice. She uses community-based participatory research approaches to work with communities to strengthen social determinants of health and adapt evidence-based environmental and policy interventions to fit local strengths and context.
Janice Ballard, MPH
Ms. Ballard is the Executive Director of Health in the Heartland, a rural health initiative of One Heart, Many Hands. She has a long history of establishing authentic partnerships as the foundation for integrating services to address the complex needs and challenges of rural residents and service providers, both locally and internationally.
Carissa van den Berk-Clark, PhD, MSW
Dr. van den Berk-Clark is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Saint Louis University. She is the deputy director of the SLU Area Health Education Center (AHEC) and outreach director of SLU’s primary care research network ARCHNet. Dr. van den Berk-Clark leverages her work with community-based organizations and groups, and her research in health services to improve access to care for underserved communities.