UK College of Nursing conducting COVID-19 impact study on Appalachian, Black communities

Posted: July 17, 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. — When it comes to the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has on communities, the College of Nursing at the University of Kentucky is taking a closer look, specifically on Appalachian and minority populations.

"Data has shown that there may be a differential impact of COVID-19, how the pandemic is affecting African Americans, rural populations and individuals who have lower socioeconomic status. And as you know, the church really provides a diverse representation of all of those populations,” said associate professor Lovoria Williams.

The College of Nursing is partnering with 15 Appalachian churches and 10 churches in Central Kentucky to survey congregants about how they've been affected by the pandemic.

"We're looking at their knowledge, their attitudes about COVID-19 and how it impacted their behaviors, their prevention and social distancing behaviors with COVID-19,” said Williams. “We're also interested in how it impacted them financially, their mental health, their physical health."

Pastor Marvin King at First Baptist Church in Winchester is encouraging his congregants to give their feedback and thinks the data could be very helpful to communities like his.

"Winchester is in many cases the gateway to Appalachia,” said King. “So, I think being considered a rural community, the data that is garnered from this survey could have tremendous impact to the regional healthcare systems that are found in many communities like ours. How to mobilize resources, doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals. Even PPE equipment."

Specifically, the college hopes to use this data for when a vaccine is developed, to know how to reach out to these populations to make sure they have proper access.

The college plans to take the study to a national level once researchers have collected local data.

This story was published by Alex Valverde for WLEX Channel 18 on July 14, 2020.  

View the video of this story.