Need for Rural Health Equity Programs
Health inequities in rural areas are well-documented. Research shows that some gaps between rural and urban
populations in health status and outcomes have increased over time. Health
disparities exist between rural and non-rural communities and between subgroups within rural
communities, such as Black people, American Indian and Alaska Native people, and people of color; LGBTQ+
individuals; communities living in the U.S.-Mexico border region; migrant farmworkers; and other communities.
Working to advance health equity can positively affect the well-being, economy, and social environment of rural
communities. The cost
of health inequities is substantial, leading to higher healthcare and insurance costs, lost
productivity, reduced ability to participate in the workforce, reduced quality of life, and premature mortality.
Disparities in children's
health status also threaten the equitable future of rural communities and America's ability to thrive
for generations to come.
Programs that seek to advance health equity in rural communities typically address one or more social
determinants of health. Social determinants that affect the health
and well-being of rural communities include:
- Access to healthcare
- Affordable and safe housing
- Transportation barriers
- Limited healthy food options
- Lack of access to broadband and other technology
- Environmental exposures
- Historical trauma
The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) funds Rural Health Research Centers that publish reports and
briefs related to rural
health disparities and equity.
Resources to Learn More
Achieving Health Equity
Provides information and resources about the importance of health equity. Discusses the social determinants
impacting health inequities and highlights reports featuring lessons learned and potential solutions to advance
Organization(s): Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)
Communities in Action: Pathways to Health
Examines the evidence on the value of health equity to improve community well-being and economic vitality.
Discusses the root causes of health inequity and includes community examples addressing inequity. Identifies how
policies can support or undermine communities in their response to achieve change in health equity.
Organization(s): National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine