Rural Research Network to engage rural and minority community members in translational research

J Clin Transl Res. 2023 Mar 28;9(2):115-122. eCollection 2023 Apr 28.


Background: To address the high prevalence of health disparities and lack of research opportunities among rural and minority communities, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) developed the Rural Research Network in January 2020.

Aim: The aim of this report is to describe our process and progress in developing a rural research network. The Rural Research Network provides a platform to expand research participation opportunities to rural Arkansans, many of whom are older adults, low-income individuals, and underrepresented minority populations.

Methods: The Rural Research Network leverages existing UAMS Regional Programs family medicine residency clinics within an academic medical center.

Results: Since the inception of the Rural Research Network, research infrastructure and processes have been built within the regional sites. Twelve diverse studies have been implemented with recruitment and data collection from 9248 participants, and 32 manuscripts have been published with residents and faculty from the regional sites. Most studies were able to recruit Black/African American participants at or above a representative sample.

Conclusions: As the Rural Research Network matures, the types of research will expand in parallel with the health priorities of Arkansas.

Relevance to patients: The Rural Research Network demonstrates how Cancer Institutes and sites funded by a Clinical and Translational Science Award can collaborate to expand research capacity and increase opportunities for research among rural and minority communities.

Keywords: Health disparities; Minority health; Research participation; Rural health; Underrepresented populations.