Integrating Information Resources to Promote Environmental Health Literacy in Appalachian Kentucky

Grants and Contracts Details


Environmental health literacy (EHL) is an emerging field that brings together information and methods from health, social, and environmental sciences to promote understanding of ways in which environmental exposures can affect human health.1,2 Ideally, such understanding can spur individual and community actions to minimize unnecessary exposures and mitigate negative health impacts linked to exposures that are unavoidable. In the proposed project, Integrating Information Resources to Promote Environmental Health Literacy in Appalachian Kentucky, our multidisciplinary team will seek to synthesize and improve existing environmental health information and disseminate new resources for Kentuckians in the Appalachian region. Health disparities in Appalachian Kentucky have been well-documented.3,4,5 Many of the chronic health conditions disproportionately experienced across the region also have been linked to environmental contaminants.6,7,8 Deteriorating infrastructure, inappropriate waste disposal,910 and potential risks related to mining and other industries11 exacerbate the need for at-risk populations to receive clear, timely, and accessible information about potential environmental health threats. Information resources can help build environmental health literacy, prevent exposures, and minimize negative health outcomes related to unavoidable exposures. Unfortunately, creating easily understandable resources and tools can prove especially challenging in Appalachian Kentucky, where educational attainment falls well below national averages. Nearly one-quarter of the region’s adults over age 25 lack high school diplomas, and only about one-fifth hold an associate’s degree or higher.12 Thus, it is critical that existing information resources be evaluated, integrated, improved, and made more accessible to help inform environmental health decisions. To address these needs, our multidisciplinary team will deploy stakeholder-engaged research strategies to achieve the following Specific Aims: 1. Evaluate existing environmental health-related risk maps currently available from specific academic, government, and non-profit organizations to determine resource accessibility, understandability, and perceived utility for Appalachian Kentuckians; 2. Conduct needs assessments to identify additional information and appropriate framing required to improve understandability and utility of environmental health-related risk maps for Appalachian Kentuckians; and 3. Use information gathered in Aims 1 and 2 to enhance maps through the inclusion of critical health-related information in accessible formats, as well as through potential changes to the visualizations themselves to improve understandability; and 4. Leverage stakeholder-partnerships developed through the study to disseminate revised maps and additional environmental health resources through community organizations, thereby promoting EHL across the region.
Effective start/end date9/9/195/31/23


  • National Library of Medicine: $388,260.00


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