The West Texas Rural EXPORT Center aims to develop partnerships between other academic institutions and community organizations in order to identify and implement approaches for eliminating health disparities in West Texas.
To guide that work in gaining knowledge that connects to action, the West Texas Rural EXPORT Center seeks to
- strengthen research and training infrastructure for minority health and health disparities
- develop research questions, pilot studies and feasibility studies that explore the behavioral, cultural, economic, environmental and biomedical determinants of health disparity in rural areas and other medically underserved communities,
- develop community-based, effective research methods for studying intervention approaches to eliminate health disparities and
- work directly with community-based organizations on projects to improve community public health and environmental health issues of direct and immediate concern to those target populations.
Based on these foundational efforts toward increasing capacity for research on the most meaningful questions relevant to the most promising avenues for making a positive difference in the lives of real people, the West Texas Rural EXPORT Center intends to conduct and sponsor research leading to more precise understanding of baselines and the actual extent of health disparities in target populations in the region.
From that basis of experience, within three years the West Texas Rural EXPORT Center aims to secure additional support in order to
Click here for a PDF document that describes the background and significance of this work.
- evaluate long-term intervention results
- broaden the participation of health disparity groups in research and prevention and intervention activities, and
- expand the scope and scale of health disparities research based on refined hypotheses.
Work of the West Texas Rural EXPORT Center will be conducted by the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC). TTUHSC is a distributed regional institution. Lubbock serves as the administrative center and main campus with regional academic health centers in Amarillo, El Paso, and Midland /Odessa. TTUHSC's Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Allied Health, Pharmacy, and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences are committed to regionalized educational experiences that draw from the insights and involvement of local communities. Over the past twenty-five years TTUHSC has taken leading roles in the development of innovative programs for rural clinical training, in the articulation of rural health policy, and in the promotion of improved health for residents of medically underserved communities, particularly those in rural and frontier areas, including populations along the United States-Mexico border. The Texas Tech University System, having two major institutions located adjacent to one another (TTUHSC and the general academic campus, along with the School of Law), enjoys a distinction unique among universities in this state. The broad array of knowledge at Texas Tech in rural matters offers a solid base for developing creative, multi-disciplinary approaches to the often complex, interrelated issues facing rural populations.
The West Texas Rural EXPORT Center will be the logical next step in the institution's long-term efforts to address health disparities for this vast, underserved region. A basic goal is to create a comprehensive, cohesive strategy to address specifically health disparities in this region. The West Texas Rural EXPORT Center will provide the infrastructure necessary to identify and coordinate synergistic activities among scholars who possess significant expertise in various disciplines that have much to contribute to health disparities research, but who are not currently involved in research in this arena. Most importantly, these administrators and researchers have credibility with local leaders and understand local customs and culture. By assembling diverse skill sets across both campuses, organizing these resources, and providing focus on relevant issues, the West Texas Rural EXPORT Center aims to provide the opportunity for senior educators and scientists to bring their capabilities jointly to bear on minority health and health disparities issues, and to encourage younger investigators in these subjects.
The central elements of the overall strategic plan are for the West Texas Rural EXPORT Center to (1) leverage significant rural expertise already existing in both the health sciences center system and the general academic campus and (2) build upon extensive relationships that already exist with community leaders, schools, community colleges and health care providers throughout the region, and expand those to partnerships with other academic institutions in the region.
Methods to reach that strategic vision, and to achieve steps of work leading to an improved understanding of and reduction in health disparities in West Texas, are organized by core components: Administration and Research, Community Outreach, and Training.