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Overview of Specific Issues in a Rural Context

Many factors influence health within rural communities, including individual health behaviors, community characteristics, environmental factors, accessibility of healthcare services, and the types of services delivered by governmental agencies or private and not-for-profit organizations. After conducting a needs assessment and determining the important health issues that need to be addressed, it will be necessary to learn more about the issues.

The issues faced by residents of rural communities are very different than those in urban areas. Rural residents may face disparities due to:

  • A disproportionate burden of chronic disease relative to the general public
  • Restricted access to quality health care
  • Insufficient or lack of health insurance coverage
  • Geographic isolation
  • Lack of public transportation
  • Poor infrastructure
  • Low educational attainment
  • Low health literacy
  • Poverty and unemployment
  • A smaller health care workforce and a lack of specialty care
  • Limited availability of bilingual providers and interpreter services
  • Cultural or social differences, stigma, and norms

All of these factors affect health and wellness in rural communities.

Examples of topics for rural community health programs include:

Resources to Learn More

About Rural Health Care
Website
This website provides statistics and data on the differences between rural and urban healthcare issues.
Organization(s): National Rural Health Association

Rural Healthy People 2010
Website
Links to Rural Healthy People 2010, a report that provides an overview of rural health priorities.
Organization(s): Southwest Rural Health Research Center

Rural Healthy People 2020
Document
This resource outlines the strategic plan for completing Rural Healthy People (RHP) 2020, names the top priority areas to be addressed, and describes the next steps toward its development. RHP 2020 is an effort to improve the health of Rural America by identifying rural health priorities, supporting rural health leaders and researchers, and promoting effective rural health programs.
Organization(s): Southwest Rural Health Research Center

The Community Guide
Website
The Community Guide is a clearinghouse of evidence-based programs, strategies, and policies that improve health and prevent disease in communities. Not all of the topics are specifically tailored to rural communities, but it covers a range of topics from adolescent health to diabetes to motor vehicle injury to tobacco. Each of the topics touch on policies, programs or services, funding, research, and education relevant to that health topic.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Rural Health Information Hub Topic Guides
Website
The Rural Health Information Hub’s Topic Guides focus on the most current and relevant information on various rural topics.
Organization(s): Rural Health Information Hub

Healthy People 2020
Website
Healthy People 2020 has identified over 1,200 objectives to monitor and improve the health of all Americans, each related to an important aspect of the public health arena. The objectives can be organized by specific conditions, population, or health theme to understand population baseline, progress, and target measures.
Organization(s): Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion