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CORAL to work with the Illinois Cohort Project

Springfield, IL (June 13, 2022) CORAL has joined with RuralHarmony to establish the Illinois Cohort study for central Illinois. People identifying as Sexual and Gender Minorities* living in rural areas face substantial barriers to receiving appropriate health care. In addition to the obstacles faced in rural America such as distance to providers, a limited number of providers and specialists, and expense of health care services, Sexual and Gender Minorities populations also face an increased risk of stigmatization and isolation from supportive communities. Research concerning Sexual and Gender Minorities living in rural areas is particularly scarce, and we aim to address that lack of knowledge. Additionally, the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Division aspires to create an online hub of information and community for all rural residents.

The initial goal of the program is to better understand the health and well-being of rural people, especially those identifying as Sexual and Gender Minorities. A developing goal is to use the information collected to inform best practices and potential interventions to increase the quality of life, healthcare access and utilization, and to develop an online community hoping to address isolation due to rurality.

As a result, several individuals from LGBTQI organizations and groups from the central Illinois area have formed an advisory team with Dr. Wiley Jenkins of SIU School of Medicine to promote the collection of information from the LGBTQI community over a course of months that will assist in addressing these issues. For those who participate, a series of surveys and interviews will be conducted over several months to discover the factors that play into these issues and advise how they may be corrected by the medical industry. If successful, future studies could be conducted on other issues as well.

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