The Appalachian Rural Health Institute was created in 2003 as an evolution of the Center for Appalachian and Rural Health Research (CARHR) originally established in 1999 by the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. CARHR's mission was to improve the health status of populations living in rural America, especially those in the Appalachian region and to serve as an umbrella for interdisciplinary studies to examine epidemiological, healthcare delivery, education and policy issues. It was believed that CARHR would provide faculty from different colleges and departments at Ohio University a better way to connect and engage in rural health research. CARHR was scheduled for its first five-year review in 2003-2004. In 2004, the Board of Trustees at Ohio University approved its name change and CARHR became ARHI, Appalachian Rural Health Institute (ARHI).
In an effort to increase well-being and quality of life of individuals in the rural Appalachian region, ARHI is committed to facilitating and fostering community-engaged research. Since addressing the needs of the Appalachian population is paramount for ARHI, it is important that ARHI and its affiliated researchers engage target populations in the research process in order to accurately assess the needs of the population and to design interventions and policies that are culturally appropriate and responsive to the needs of the region.