The Center for Research on Chronic Health Conditions in Rural Dwellers will help address issues associated with the management of chronic illness within the rural context. The goals of the Center are to: a) facilitate nursing and interdisciplinary research related to management of chronic health conditions by rural dwellers with a focus on promoting healthy behaviors, avoiding complications, encouraging self-management, and supporting the family, b) enhance the prerequisite research skills to conduct research regarding the management of chronic health conditions in a rural environment, c) enhance the research infrastructure in the College of Nursing, and d) disseminate scientific information related to rural dweller's management of chronic health conditions to a variety of audiences, including undergraduate and graduate students, nurse clinicians, and other health care providers, policy makers, the public, and the media. Research capacity building for the nursing faculty and the development of a strong infrastructure to support that research is seen as the overriding objective of the Center. Ultimately, it is envisioned that collaboration with interdisciplinary colleagues and with nurse scholars across the region will occur in order to better address the needs of rural populations who are living with chronic health problems.

Program Description

The Center for Research on Chronic Health Conditions in Rural Dwellers is well suited to meet the objectives set forth in the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) request for proposals (NR-01-001). The purpose of this mechanism is to support planning for new resources and feasability studies to explore various approaches to developing interdisciplinary research programs that address areas consistent with the mission of NINR. The Center will be located on the Bozeman campus of the College of Nursing with satellite Centers on each of the upper division campuses of the nursing program in Billings, Great Falls and Missoula. This statewide corporation will provide a strong infrastructure to allow research active faculty on all four campuses to build upon and consolidate prior research efforts, strengthen and enrich ongoing research, stimulate new initiatives, enhance funding, attract investigators, and enrich student educational opportunities. The Center will likewise allow for the promotion of continued and strengthened collaboration with interdisciplinary colleagues and with nurse scholars across the state and region in order to better address the needs of rural dwellers who are living with chronic health problems.



Structure and Administration

The Project Director for the Center will be a renowned nurse scientist on the College of Nursing faculty who will direct the activities from the Bozeman campus. The Executive Council of the Center will assist the Director in making scientific and administrative decisions - including budget oversight. The Executive Council will be composed of the Dean of the College of Nursing, the Fiscal Officer of the Center and the Directors of two substructures - the Administrative Core and the Pilot Core. The Administrative Core will be directed by a nursing faculty member from the Missoula campus and will be composed of faculty from several disciplines as well as the Director of the Office of Rural Health. Responsibilities of the Administrative Core will be to review the utilization of funding and provide research consultation to investigators. The Pilot Core will be directed by a nursing faculty member from the Billings campus and will be composed of in-state as well as out-of-state interdisciplinary faculty. Responsibilities of the Pilot Core will be to assist in the development of pilot projects and make resources available to investigators. An Advisory Committee will be composed of five scientists or content experts from outside the University, four scientists from MSU - Bozeman, and two consumers. Members of the Advisory Committee have been selected for their scientific excellence, success in acquisition of funding, expertise in the area of scientific inquiry (chronic health conditions), and/or experience as rural health care consumers with a chronic health condition. The Advisory Committee will advise the Director on all aspects of the Center.

Education Component

Although the Center has no direct impact on student enrollment, the prestige of having a Center with the enhanced research capabilities will be attractive to graduate and undergraduate students as an opportunity to actively engage in research. Likewise, faculty and visiting scholars will be attracted to the College of Nursing and MSU - Bozeman; therefore, the Center will be used as a recruitment tool.

Importance to Montana State University-Bozeman

Historical, experiential, and demographic factors coalesce to position the MSU - Bozeman College of Nursing to undertake the development of a Center for Research on Chronic Health Conditions in Rural Dwellers. The Center will provide an infrastructure to support a focused approach to conducting research related to the management of chronic conditions of rural dwellers. The Center will provide the opportunity for students and faculty of many disciplines to collaborate in research related to a wide variety of chronic health conditions known to be problematic for rural dwellers.

Commitment to having a Research Center at the College of Nursing has been demonstrated in a variety of ways by many interested parties:

$                    The College of Nursing faculty has overwhelmingly endorsed the concept and have been actively involved in all aspects of the preparation of the Center proposal, including conceptualizing, writing, editing, and reviewing the application.

$                    The College of Nursing administration highly values this endeavor as is shown by the in-kind services provided, financial support for the development of the proposal, commitment to sustainability of the Center, and the Deans overwhelmingly supportive letter.

$                    The administration of Montana State University-Bozeman has expressed their commitment to and enthusiasm for the Center.

$                    Strong support has been evidenced by the primary health related entities on campus including the WWAMI Director and the Director of the Office of Rural Health and Area Health Education Center.

$                    Interest in having a Center at the College of Nursing has been expressed by both of Montana's U.S. Senators, the U.S. Congressman, the Governor, a State Senator and state agencies such as the Arthritis Foundation, Public Health Department, Montana Hospital Association, Indian Health Service, Department of Public Health and Human Services, the Montana Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, Deaconess Billings Clinic Center on Aging, Women Reaching for Wellness, and Montana Cancer Consortium.

$                    Nurses and nursing organizations have indicated support for the Center including the Montana Nurses' Association, directors of other nursing education programs in the state, and individual nurses.

$                    And finally, the potential for the Center's positive regional impact and the possibility for inter-institutional linkages is indicated by the support shown from deans/directors of colleges/schools of nursing in Idaho, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.


The Notice of Intent for Approval of a proposal to establish a Center for Research on Chronic Health Conditions in Rural Dwellers at the Montana State University - Bozeman College of Nursing was submitted for Board of Regents consideration at the July 12-13, 2001 meeting. The Center is funded by NIH/National Institution Nursing Research (1P20NR07790-01) for three years for a total of $648,088. Funding began August 1, 2001. No new State of Montana resources will be required for Center operations.