Barriers to Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Rural Areas
In rural communities, many factors influence
health. Rural communities experience a higher prevalence of chronic conditions than their urban counterparts.
Examples of chronic conditions include heart disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Rural communities also experience higher rates of mortality and disability than urban communities. Limited
access to health promotion and disease prevention programs and healthcare services contribute to these health
Examples of social determinants that are barriers for rural
communities in accessing healthcare include:
Higher poverty rates, which can make it difficult for participants to pay for services or programs
Cultural and social norms surrounding health behaviors
Low health literacy levels and incomplete perceptions of health
Linguistic and educational disparities
Limited affordable, reliable, or public transportation options
Unpredictable work hours or unemployment
Lower population densities for program economies of scale coverage
Availability of resources to support personnel, use of facilities, and effective program operation
Lack of access to healthy foods and physical activity options
These shared barriers provide context for the needs of rural communities and an understanding of the strategies
that will be most effective to address rural barriers to care.
Resources to Learn More
2014 Update of the Rural-Urban Chartbook
Presents county-level data, grouped by urbanization level, on population characteristics, health
behaviors and risk factors, mortality, other health status measures, access to care, and mental health
Authors(s): Meit, M., Knudson, A., Gilbert, T., et al.
Organizations(s): NORC Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis
Rural Healthy People 2020, Volume 1 and Volume 2
Identifies rural-specific health priority areas, rural evidence-based best practice programs, community
practices and interventions, and promotes rural healthy communities.
Authors(s): Bolin, J. & Bellamy, G.
Organizations(s): Southwest Rural Health Research Center