Public Health researcher launches resource website investigating place and health in West Virginia

Research demonstrates that when asked about health or well-being, most people tend to respond with details about their good and poor behavior or access to a healthcare provider, medical facilities and clinics. To help reframe the way West Virginians think about and address population health, a new website,, is now available.

Developed by West Virginia University School of Public Health Assistant Professor Lauri Andress, PhD, JD, “Place & Health in West Virginia” is a new website that aims to tell the story of population health in a different way by explaining how good and poor health are produced outside what many people traditionally think of as the healthcare system.

According to the American Public Health Association, public health is the promotion and protection of the health of people in the communities where they live, learn, work and play. Contributors to the website expand upon this idea by investigating these places with the goal of uncovering the key to the state of health and disease that then shows up in West Virginia’s health clinics, hospitals and healthcare reports.

A central goal of the website is to examine how improved health can occur by influencing intentional policy decisions made by leaders about the places where people live, learn, work and play. Through exploration of the achievement of equity between groups of different social status in the areas of transportation, food security, infant mortality and the built environment as community redevelopment, the website serves as qualitative public health assessment using the lived experiences of underserved groups in West Virginia.

The website is currently undergoing a peer review process managed by WVU Research Office Associate Vice President for Creative and Scholarly Activities Melanie Page, PhD, and School of Public Health alumnus Kyle Strother, MPH.

“Dr. Andress’s construction of an external facing website so that the communities she conducts research with can easily access findings that are relevant to their lives is an example of the land grant mission of WVU in action,” says Page. “Just like when journal articles are peer reviewed, this review process will make the final product stronger.”

In addition to the blind peer review process with scholars, reviews from community leaders and stakeholders are an important part of the process as the basis of the website are the stories and narratives from underrepresented populations.

Future additions to the website, to be coordinated by Strother, will include resources that provide guidance to decisionmakers, community leaders and other groups that want to consider the development of equitable policies that result in healthy places where communities may have access to opportunities and resources that improve population health.

Contributors to the website include Andress, Sandra Fallon, program coordinator for the TransTech Energy (TTE) Research and Business Development Program, Matt Purtill, PhD, assistant professor in geology and environmental science at SUNY-Fredonia, Madison Matheny, international studies and environmental geoscience student at WVU, and Garrett Yurisko, photographer, videographer and designer. The website is the result of a collaborative partnership with the City of Morgantown.



CONTACT: Nikky Luna, Director of Marketing and Communications
WVU School of Public Health