Past Research Projects

Rural Families Speak: Tracking the Well-Being of Rural Low-Income Families in the Context of Welfare Reform
Dr. Bonnie Braun, Dr. Elaine Anderson, Dr. Susan Walker, and Dr. Jinhee Kim 
Dr. Braun, Dr. Anderson, Dr. Walker, Dr. Jinhee Kim, and graduate students are collaborating with 14 other land-grant universities to conduct an interdisciplinary, multi-state, longitudinal study to assess the impact of declining public assistance, on the well-being of rural families and their communities. In 2000, 433 mothers from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds were interviewed. They were interviewed again in 2001 and 2002. Community leaders are also being interviewed. The researchers are collecting and analyzing both quantitative and qualitative data on families and communities. The research will provide important information to program administrators and policy makers who are seeking to help families gain, regain, and/or retain their means of economic self-sufficiency. The University of Maryland Graduate Research Board, Maryland Cooperative Extension and Department of Family Science, University of Maryland System Women's Forum, the American Association of Family Consumer Sciences, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Maryland Department of Human Resources are providing funding for the project.

Unheard Voices: Engaging Limited Resource Citizens in the Deliberative Public Policy Process 
Dr. Bonnie Braun and Dr. Elaine Anderson
With funding from the Charles F. Kettering Foundation, faculty and students are investigating the question: "Under what conditions can, and will, limited resource citizens engage in deliberative public policy practices?" The study known as Unheard Voices is an outgrowth of the longitudinal study, Rural Families Speak. Phase One of Unheard Voices began in 2004 with interviews of Maryland's families participating in the Rural Families Speak project and expanded to focus groups with other rural, low-income families and human service personnel. One overriding issue emerged: recreation was important for families and especially youth. A forum, modeled after the National Issues Forum, was conducted. Phase Two, continued examination of the conditions, continues through 2005. View preliminary findings from Unheard Voices Phase One.

Food Insecurity Among Rural, Low-Income Families
Dr. Elaine Anderson and Dr. Bonnie Braun
Drs. Anderson and Braun are co-directors of the research project, Food Availability, Accessibility and Affordability: Perception and Reality of Factors Potentially Associated with Obesity Among Rural, Low-Income Families, funded by the School of Public Health. They are conducting a obesity-related food surveillance of a rural, low-income community, as well as a targeted survey of perceived household food security among low-income mothers. The instrumentation pilot tests are assessing the relationship between food availability, accessibility and affordability in relation to household food security. Instruments are being tested for use with future studies of similar populations and settings.

Sisters Helping Sisters Project
Dr. Bonnie Braun and Dr. Elaine Anderson
Drs. Braun and Anderson are co-program evaluators of A Community Engagement Model: Sisters Helping Sisters Targeting Obesity in Young Women to Prevent the Development of Type II Diabetes, funded by US DHHS, Office of Women's Health. This community-based research intervention, in partnership with Washington County Hospital in Hagerstown, Maryland, is designed to implement strategies to prevent, reduce or eliminate health conditions associated with overweight and obesity among a population of rural, African-American young mothers. Among African-American women, the prevalence for diabetes is higher than other gender/race groups (34.5% & 30.0%) (Maryland DHMH, 2005). Results will be utilized to inform future interventions and research exploring factors that may affect intended change in behavior maximizing positive outcomes.

Livin' on Life's Byways: Rural Mothers Speak
Dr. Bonnie Braun

Livin’ on Life’s Byways:  Rural Mothers Speak is a 45-minute dramatization of stories from real, low-income mothers and their families living in Maryland. It is intended as a teaching tool to increase awareness and understanding of the state of well-being of rural, low-income families and of the options for public policy at local, state and national levels. A cast of actors can stage a presentation or of students or community members can read the script.  Its name, Livin’ on Life’s Byways: Rural Mothers Speak, sets up the first point—that rural residents, and particularly the lower income residents, live on the byways of America, their states and counties.  Each act emphasizes a different but related aspect of the challenges of living in rural areas on the well-being of low-income families.  The first two acts set up the problems facing rural residents from the research studies.  The last act focuses on finding solutions through engagement of citizens—including and especially, low-income rural citizens. Additional information can be found here.