Using Hotlines and Other Rural Community Social Services for Improved Surveillance, Prevention and Intervention

  • Baker, David E.;
  • Chapman, Larry;
  • Scharf, Ted;
  • Hennessy, Colleen;
  • James, R.;
  • Olson, G. A.

Rural hotlines and other social services in farming communities have become increasingly important since the farm crisis of the mid-1980s. These agencies are in an excellent position to collect information regarding current needs and emerging problems in rural communities. Additionally, these agencies have been engaged in a wide variety of activities and services related to disaster relief, which essentially constitute, or have the potential to constitute, community interventions. However, there has been little effort to systematically gather and evaluate information about the types and outcomes of these social service activities. This paper utilizes the example of call logs from a rural hotline to illustrate the surveillance potential in the information collected, and the potential usefulness of this information in formulating interventions in rural communities.

Recently, researchers at NIOSH had the opportunity to code four years of data from the Wisconsin Farmers Assistance Program Hotline in Madison, Wisconsin. Open-ended, handwritten notes from the call logs were coded into categories of farm family life events. These data are presented and discussed briefly. Additionally, discussion will focus on the potential usefulness of hotlines, and other data collected by rural social service agencies, in providing information on changing trends in rural community problems and service needs to target interventions.

This research abstract was extracted from a portion of the proceedings of "Agricultural Safety and Health: Detection, Prevention and Intervention," a conference presented by the Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Health, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

T. Scharf, NIOSH, Cincinnati, OH; C.M. Hennessy, Fed. Office of Rural Health Policy, Washington, DC, L.J. Chapman, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, WI; G. A. Olson, Iowa State Univ. Extension, Mt. Pleasant, IA; D.E. Baker, Univ. of Missouri, Columbia, MO; R. James, Wisconsin Farmers Assistance Program Hotline, State of Wisconsin, Madison, WI.

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