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Rural Health Information Hub

Focus Areas for Rural Community Health Programs

Rural community health programs may address multiple factors that affect health and well-being, from individual health behaviors to broader environmental policies and practices. Rural programs can also consider how community characteristics like the accessibility of healthcare services and the availability of local services affect the health of potential rural program participants.

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 healthcare
  • Insufficient or lack of health insurance coverage
  • Geographic isolation
  • Lack of public transportation
  • Poor infrastructure
  • Poverty and unemployment
  • A smaller healthcare workforce and a lack of specialty care
  • Limited availability of bilingual providers and interpreter services
  • Cultural or social differences, stigma, and norms

These issues contribute to additional barriers to attaining the best possible level of health, including lower educational attainment and health literacy, and are influenced by the root causes of health disparities.

This toolkit offers general information about designing, implementing, evaluating, and reporting about community health programs. Based on community needs and priorities, rural communities may choose to focus their community health programs on one or more specific topics. Examples of topics for rural community health programs include:

The Rural Health Information Hub's Topic Guides also focus on the most current and relevant information on various rural topics.

Resources to Learn More

About Rural Health Care
Provides statistics and data on the differences between rural and urban healthcare issues: workforce shortages, socioeconomic factors, and health inequity.
Organization(s): National Rural Health Association

Healthy People 2030
Provides science-based objectives focused on high-priority public health issues for improving the health of Americans. Objectives cover topics on health conditions, health behaviors, populations, setting and systems, and social determinants of health. Includes a subset of leading health indicators (LHIs) to address factors impacting death and disease, and assist states, organizations, and communities to direct their resources to improve health and well-being of all people.
Organization(s): Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Rural Healthy People 2030: Common Challenges, Rural Nuances
Discusses priority areas identified by rural stakeholders how these views vary by demographic or economic factors, including stakeholder census region, gender, age, race, field of employment, and state Medicaid expansion status.
Author(s): Kassabian, M, Shrestha, A, Callaghan, TH., Johnson, N, Helduser, J., Horel, S., Bolin, J, & Ferdinand, AO.
Organization(s): Southwest Rural Health Research Center, Texas A&M Health Science Center, School of Public Health
Date: 2023