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Rural Health
Resources by Topic: Rural definitions

Colorado: County Designations, 2022
Map of Colorado identifying counties based on urban, rural, or frontier designation.
Date: 01/2022
Type: Map/Mapping System
Sponsoring organization: Colorado Rural Health Center
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Defining Rural Rhode Island
Detailed definition of rural areas in Rhode Island, developed by the Rhode Island Office of Primary Care and Rural Health for the purposes of identifying areas that are potentially at risk for health disparities and limits on access to healthcare. Includes a list of Rhode Island cities and towns, with their population and population density as of 2020.
Date: 2022
Type: Document
Sponsoring organization: Rhode Island Department of Health
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Population Denominator Data Sources and Data for Use with HCUP Databases (Updated with 2021 Population Data)
Identifies sources of population data that can be used with Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP) databases to calculate rates of hospital care events per population. Includes rural-urban population data sources. Appendix A, Tables A.6 and A.7 provide U.S. population figures from 2000 through 2021 for a 4-category urban-rural definition and a 6-category urban-rural definition.
Date: 2022
Type: Document
Sponsoring organization: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
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Defining "Rural" for the Study on Human Services Programs in Rural Contexts
Report describing the impacts of rural definitions on research design and methods for a study of human services delivery in rural areas. Addresses U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural-Urban Continuum Codes, rural regions, and the limitations of certain definitions.
Author(s): Dallas Elgin, James Murdoch, Corianne Payton Scally, Heather Hahn
Date: 11/2021
Type: Document
Sponsoring organizations: 2M Research, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Urban Institute
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Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Designated Rural Health Areas in Oklahoma, 2021
County-level map of rural health areas in Oklahoma as designated by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP).
Date: 10/2021
Type: Map/Mapping System
Sponsoring organization: Oklahoma State University Center for Rural Health
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Which Definition of Rurality Should I Use?: The Relative Performance of 8 Federal Rural Definitions in Identifying Rural-Urban Disparities
Study comparing 8 definitions of rural used by the federal government in order to understand how often the same areas were identified as rural and to measure rural-urban disparities related to socioeconomic status, demographics, healthcare access, and health outcomes. Analyzes 2010 census tract-level spatial data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 2014-2019 5-year American Community Survey (ACS) population estimates, the Provider of Services file, and the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System files from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Author(s): Julianna C. Long, Paul L. Delamater, George M. Holmes
Citation: Medical Care, 59, S413-S419
Date: 10/2021
Type: Document
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List of Rural Counties and Designated Eligible Census Tracts in Metropolitan Counties
Identifies areas with geographic eligibility for Federal Office of Rural Health Policy grant programs. Lists rural counties, rural census tracts within metropolitan counties, and outlying metropolitan counties without an Urbanized Area.
Date: 09/2021
Type: Document
Sponsoring organization: Federal Office of Rural Health Policy
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Comments on Proposed Criteria for Defining Urban Areas
Comment letter responding to the U.S. Census Bureau on proposed changes to criteria used to define urban areas. Discusses how the proposed changes could impact the delivery of healthcare services in rural communities, including potential implications on the certification of Rural Health Clinics.
Date: 05/2021
Type: Document
Sponsoring organization: National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services
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Indicators of Rurality: How Should We Define "Rural" and "Urban" Communities?
Provides an overview of six federal datasets and how each is used to classify urban and rural communities. Offers recommendations for how to use each indicator of rurality.
Date: 05/2021
Type: Document
Sponsoring organization: Institute for People Place and Possibility
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Comment on Recommendations from the Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Area Standards Review Committee to Changes in Metropolitan and Micropolitan Area Standards
Offers comments in response to the Office of Management and Budget's proposed changes to the metropolitan and micropolitan statistical area standards. Discusses potential unintended consequences of the proposed changes and the broader implications of the definition of metropolitan on research and policy development.
Date: 03/2021
Type: Document
Sponsoring organization: Rural Policy Research Institute
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