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The Need for Services Integration in Rural Communities

There is a need for health and human services integration in rural communities. This need is driven by the multitude of factors in rural communities that influence health. These include, for example:

  • High rates of poverty and unemployment
  • Unique rural risk factors for chronic diseases and alcohol and substance abuse
  • Lack of access to healthcare providers and specialized services
  • Lack of access to human services
  • Lack of affordable housing and substandard housing
  • Transportation barriers including geography, isolation, and extreme weather
  • Decline in tax revenues and philanthropic base to fund needed social services
  • Stigma and beliefs that may affect whether individuals seek services

In addition, national economic trends have increased the need for human services and safety net programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), job training, and financial assistance, according to a report by the Rural Policy Research Institute’s (RUPRI) Rural Human Services Panel. The report notes that it is challenging to meet the need for human services and safety net programs given increasing costs, service demands, and resource constraints in the public, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors.

For additional information on the factors that influence rural health, see Overview of Specific Issues in a Rural Context in the Rural Community Health Toolkit.

Resources to Learn More

Perspectives: On Poverty, Policy & Place
Document
This edition of Perspectives examines issues about designing, delivering, and accessing supports and services in rural communities.
Organization(s): Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI)
Date: 2008

Rethinking Rural Human Service Delivery in Challenging Times: The Case for Service Integration
Document
This report provides background on the need for services integration specific to rural communities and potential opportunities to begin services integration.
Author(s): Gutierrez, M., Belanger, K., Clark, V., Friedman, J., Redfern, J., Weber, B., Fluharty, C., & Richgels, J.
Organization(s): Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI)
Date: 2/2010