Skip to main content

Data Sources & Tools Relevant to Rural Health

Source/
Tool
Topics Ease
of Use
Geographic Level of Data Frequency
Updated
2014 Update of the Rural-Urban Chartbook
Rural Health Reform Policy Research Center

Individual data tables (Excel)
Data from many federal sources on the following topics:
Demographics
Health behaviors and risk factors
Mortality rates
Healthcare access and use
Other health measures
Printed report
Excel spreadsheet
National
Regional
5 levels of urbanization / rurality
Infrequent.
The 2014 edition updates a 2001 report from the CDC.
AGing Integrated Database (AGID): ACL Special Tabulations
Administration for Community Living
American Community Survey data on the population 60 and older, covering:
Demographics
Disability status
Employment
Income
Poverty
Easy, web-based interface National
State
County

Rural/Urban available for 2008-2012 only
Annual release based on 5-year ACS estimates
AGing Integrated Database (AGID): County-Level Population Estimates Data Custom Tables
Administration for Community Living
Population estimates for the older adult population:
Age range
Gender
Race / ethnicity
Easy, web-based interface County Annual
American Community Survey (ACS)
U.S. Census Bureau

Access ACS via American FactFinder

Other Data Tools for accessing ACS data
Demographic
Age and sex
Ancestry
Disability
Commuting to work
Education
Employment
Family/relationships
Health insurance
Income and earnings
Language
Origins
Population change
Poverty
Race and ethnicity
Veterans
Housing - financial and physical characteristics
A variety of tools are available, for varying levels of expertise and purpose National
State
County
Community
Rural-specific
Public Use Microdata Area
ZIP Code Tabulation Area
Full list of geographic areas
Data estimates are released every year

1-year estimates for areas with population of 65,000 or more

5-year estimates for areas with population below 65,000
American FactFinder
U.S. Census Bureau
Centralized access to a variety of U.S. Census Bureau data Both guided and advanced search options are available National
State
County
Community
Rural-specific
Geographic Comparison Tables
Ongoing, as new U.S. Census Bureau data is available
American FactFinder: Community Facts
U.S. Census Bureau
Population
Age
Business and industry
Education
Housing
Income
Origins and language
Poverty
Veterans
Easy, web-based interface National
State
County
Community
ZIP code
Varies. Uses the latest U.S. Census Bureau data available for the selected geography.
Area Health Resources Files (AHRF)
Health Resources and Services Administration
Data from many sources on the following topics:
Healthcare facilities
Healthcare utilization
Healthcare workforce
Health professions training
Demographics
Social determinants of health
Rural classifications
Available via a straightforward online dashboard. Data also available for download in SAS and ASCII format. National
State
County
See AHRF Data Download Documentation for years of data available.
Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America
Economic Research Service (ERS)
US Department of Agriculture
Population change overall and by demographic group
ACS data
BLS data
60 socioeconomic indicators
Easy, web-based interface County Ongoing, as new data is available
BEA Regional Economic Accounts
Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)

Access BEA Interactive Regional Data

Access per capita income via BEARFACTS Local Area (County) Fact Sheets
Employment
Per capita income
Income by industry (including healthcare)
Somewhat complex and powerful web-based tool and county-level customizable mapping.
Easy printable fact sheets for income data
State
County
Metropolitan/Nonmetro
Annual
Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

For state-level data access options, see BRFSS State Coordinators
Health behaviors of adults, including:
Chronic diseases and conditions
Health-risk behaviors
Use of preventive health services
Accessing BRFSS county-level data directly requires statistical expertise

Comparing counties within a state is considered appropriate by the CDC. Comparing individual counties across state lines is not considered appropriate due to the methodological constraints of the sample.

CDC web-based tools do not provide county-level details.

Public release data not available for any county with fewer than 10,000 residents.

Easier-to-use tools that include BRFSS data:
National
State
County
Annual
Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index
Blue Cross Blue Shield

National Health Index
State and County Views
Comprehensive health scores based on claims data of over 41 million Blue Cross Blue Shield commercially insured members.
Top state and county health conditions.
Easy, web-based interface National
State
County
CDC WONDER
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Public health
Environment
Births
Mortality
A complex but fairly user-friendly web-based system that offers many options to narrow results National
State
County (births)
Rural (mortality)
Annual
CMS Data Navigator
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
A range of CMS programs, including:
Medicaid
Medicare
CHIP
Health Insurance Marketplace
Demonstrations
Easy-to-use interface for identifying data sources and reports.

Some sources require statistical expertise.
National
Regional
State
County
Hospital Referral Region
Varies
CMS Research, Statistics, Data & Systems A range of CMS programs Starting point to access a wide variety of CMS data files.
County Health Rankings & Roadmaps
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Compiles and standardizes data from a variety of national sources on these topics:

Health factors
Health behaviors
Clinical Care
Social and economic factors
Physical environment
Health outcomes
Length of life
Quality of life
Easy, web-based interface

Can download data as Excel file
County
(Some data may not be available for all counties)
Annual
Current Population Survey
U.S. Census Bureau & Bureau of Labor Statistics

Access via IPUMS-CPS

Access via Census DataFerrett or DataFerrett FTP
Labor force statistics, including:
Unemployment rate
Earnings
Demographics
Health insurance
Disability status
Web-based tools are complex and require expertise to use effectively and appropriately.

To access rural-specific data via IPUMS-CPS, select "Metro" from the Geographic Variables. For guidance in using this tool, see the IPUMS-CPS Frequently Asked Questions.
State
County
Rural
Monthly
(March data serves as national benchmark for various indicators)
The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care
The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice
Compiles Medicare data on:
Spending
Utilization
Quality
Download options, as well as somewhat complex web-based option to make custom datasets and graphs Data available for each geography varies:
Hospital Referral Region
Hospital Service Area
County (limited data)
Hospital
Data.CMS.Gov
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Central data portal for information on a wide range of CMS programs and providers. Web-based interface with a variety of controls and options Varies by data set
data.HRSA.gov
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
HRSA program data, including:
Rural health
Loans and scholarships
Shortage areas
Health centers

External data on:
Demographics (ACS)
Healthcare facilities (CMS)
Powerful, complex web-based data portal and map tool for creating custom data views and maps

Variety of other tools and publications
Varies by data set
Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health
Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI)
Data from the National Survey of Children’s Health and the National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs on:
Child health indicators
Family life indicators
Most useful for researchers. State-level rural data is available for some states, but only in the public use files, not via the web interface. Analyzing requires the ability to statistically account for the weighted nature of the survey. National
State
Department of Veterans Affairs Opioid Prescribing Data
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
VA facility opioid-dispensing rates Easy-to-use map and table VA facilities 2012-2018
ERS State Fact Sheets
Economic Research Service (ERS)
US Department of Agriculture
Data from ERS, Census, BLS,  BEA on:
Population
Food security
Income
Education
Employment
Easy, printable list of relevant information National
State
Rural-specific
Ongoing, as new data is available
Food Access Research Atlas
Economic Research Service (ERS)
US Department of Agriculture
Data from a range of sources on:
Food deserts
Food access indicators
Easy, web-based interface

Downloadable data that can be merged into GIS software at the 2010 Census Tract level for use with other spatial layers.
Census tracts
Food Environment Atlas
Economic Research Service (ERS)
US Department of Agriculture
Data from a range of sources on:
Access to healthy food
Food security
Obesity rates
Physical activity
Demographics
Easy, web-based interface

Data can also be downloaded and merged into GIS software.
State
County (not available for all data)
FoodAPS National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey
Economic Research Service (ERS)
US Department of Agriculture
Food items and prices for households and individuals
Food and nutrition assistance program benefits
Local food environments
Restricted-use data files
Requires statistical expertise
County
Census tract
Census block group
Infrequent.
FoodAPS-1 released in 2016 based on 2012-2013 survey;
FoodAPS-2 is planned
HDPulse Data Portal
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
Health disparities data from federal sources on the following topics:
Mortality
Socio-demographics
Health screening
Risk factors
Easy-to-use web-based system State
County
Annual
The Health and Well-Being of Children in Rural Areas: A Portrait of the Nation 2011-2012
Health Resources and Services Administration
Published 4/2015

Print version
Data from the National Survey of Children's Health on the following topics:
Health status
Health insurance coverage
Healthcare access
Family life and parental health status
School and neighborhood factors
Web-based and printed report National
Rural-specific
Infrequent.
The 2015 edition updates a 2011 report based on 2007 data
Health, United States
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Data Finder: Select Metropolitan and nonmetropolitan under Population Subgroups.
Data from a range of sources on:
Health status and determinants
Healthcare utilization, Access
Expenditures
Publication with charts/tables

Supporting Excel files available on the website
National
State
Rural-specific
Annual
Health System Data Center
The Commonwealth Fund
Provides access to the Commonwealth Fund's Scorecard on State Health System Performance, covering:
Access
Quality
Cost
Outcomes
Easy, web-based interface with option to download PDF reports State
Hospital referral region
Annual
Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP)
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Access via HCUPnet

HCUP Fast Stats, including Opioid-Related Hospital Use
Hospital care data from a set of databases on:
Inpatient utilization
Emergency department utilization
Access
Cost
Quality
Outcomes
Easy, web-based access

Public-use and fee-based versions
National
State & County (for participating states, some providing estimates only)
Rural (location of patient residence)
Sets/groups of hospitals, including rural hospitals
U.S.-Mexico Border Region (via HCUPnet)
Ongoing, as data is available
HealthLandscape
American Academy of Family Physicians

Free, but registration required

Access HealthLandscape Community Vital Signs
Data from a variety of sources showing:
Healthcare facilities
Health status
Health insurance
Employment and income
Demographics
Somewhat complex but powerful web-based interactive mapping State
County
Interactive Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Data from a variety of federal sources on:
Heart disease
Stroke
Social determinants of health
Health services
Healthcare costs
Healthcare facilities
Fairly straightforward web-based mapping system National
State
County
Kaiser State Health Facts
Kaiser Family Foundation
Data from a variety of public and private sources on:
Demographics
Healthcare costs
Health insurance
Health status
Minority and women's health
Medicaid and Medicare
Healthcare providers
Easy, web-based access State Ongoing, as new data is available

Focuses on issues of current concern, so may have limited trending data for a given topic
KIDS COUNT Data Center
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Data on children's health and well-being, from a variety of national and state sources, covering:
Demographics
Economic well-being
Education
Family and community
Health
Safety and risk behaviors
Easy to navigate website State
County
Congressional District
Annual
Local Area Unemployment Statistics (LAUS)
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Access LAUS Tables

Access LAUS Map

Access LAUS Customized Tables
Employment
Unemployment
Basic tables available on web site
Easy-to-use maps
Somewhat complex web-based search tool
County Monthly
Longitudinal Tract Data Base
Brown University
1970-2010 Census and American Community Survey data with standardized tract boundaries Files available for download, requires data expertise Census tract
Mapping Medicare Disparities
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Provides data on Medicare beneficiaries on:
Health disparities
Chronic conditions
Health outcomes
Healthcare utilization
Cost
Easy-to-use web-based system State
County
Hospital
Currently offers 2012-2016 data
Market Saturation and Utilization Data Tool
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Medicare provider services and utilization for:
Ambulance
Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC)
Home health
Hospice
Physical and occupational therapy
Skilled nursing facilities
More
Interactive map and data set offer many options to narrow and customize results. National
State
County
Core-Based Statistical Area (CBSA)
Selected date ranges available
Measure of America

Access Measure of America Maps
Data from a variety of sources on topics related to:
Health
Education
Income
Easy, web-based map tool. Zoom in or enter ZIP code for a county profile
County data can be downloaded by submitting a download agreement.
National maps with county-level data
County profiles
Varies by data source
Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS)
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Healthcare access
Health services utilization
Healthcare costs and payment methods
Healthcare quality
Health insurance coverage and cost
Easy to access summary tables
Somewhat complex web-based system

Downloadable files require advanced data skills and do not contain metropolitan / non-metropolitan identifiers.
National
State
Metropolitan / Non-metropolitan
Medicare Chronic Conditions Dashboards
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Provides data on Medicare beneficiaries on:
Chronic condition prevalence
Healthcare utilization and Medicare spending related to chronic conditions
Easy-to-use web-based system National
State
County
Hospital Referral Region
Currently offers 2015 data
Medicare Geographic Variation Dashboards
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Medicare fee-for-service per capita costs Fairly straightforward, web-based tool
In the county dashboard, select a state by clicking the map.
National
State
County
Annual
Medicare Part D Opioid Prescribing Mapping Tool
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Opioid prescribing rates based on Medicare Part D claims Straightforward map-based system State
County
ZIP code
Rural/Urban
2016 data, plus change since 2013
National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS);
National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS)

National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)

Survey Results and Products
Data on ambulatory medical care services, including services provided by office-based physicians, hospital emergency and outpatient departments, and ambulatory surgery centers Data is available in reports and tables on specific topics.

Data is only to be used on one stratification level at a time; drilling down beyond the presented stratifications breaks the sampling scheme.
National
Rural/Urban based on patient ZIP code
Reports issued throughout the year
NACo County Explorer
National Association of Counties
Wide range of topics, including:
Health status
Local health departments
Healthcare access
Social determinants of health
Easy-to-use web-based system County
NCHHSTP AtlasPlus
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP)
HIV/AIDS
Viral hepatitis
Tuberculosis
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
Social determinants of health
Somewhat complex web-based system that offers various narrowing options depending on the data National
State
County
NCHS Data Visualization Gallery
National Center for Health Statistics
Natality, including teen births

Mortality, including:
  • Drug poisoning mortality
  • Rural/urban excess deaths
Interactive data visualization tools and downloadable accompanying data sets Varies by visualization, may include:
Nation
State
County
Urban/rural
Varies by visualization
National Center for Veterans Analysis and Statistics
US Department of Veterans Affairs
Veteran population
VA benefit utilization
Downloadable files
Static maps
National
State
County
National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Data Query Tool

Info by Location (County)
Environmental health topics and related health effects:
Air quality
Heat exposure
Pesticide exposure
Asthma
Cancer
COPD
Heart disease
Easy, web-based interface National
State
County
Annual
National Health Interview Survey
National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)

Access NHIS Tables of Summary Health Statistics

Access NHIS Datasets

Access NHIS Key Health Indicators
Health status
Health behaviors
Health insurance coverage
Easy to access summary tables and online dynamic report of quarterly key health indicators Metropolitan / Non-metropolitan

Large MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area), small MSA, not in an MSA
Annual
National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS)
Minnesota Population Center, University of Minnesota
Historical Census data
GIS-compatible boundary files
Free, but registration required to view data.
Somewhat complex system for selecting files. Video tutorial available.
Nation
State
County
Place
Rural
Census Data from 1790-present
National Survey on Drug Use and Health Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Access Drug Use and Health Detailed Tables, 2017
Mental health conditions and services
Substance abuse incidence and treatment
Detailed tables available on website. For rural data, look for tables that list "Geographic Characteristics" National
State
Regions within states
Rural-specific
Annual
Neighborhood Atlas Area Deprivation Index (ADI) state and national rankings, factoring in income, education, employment, and housing quality Easy, web-based interface
Data available for download
Census Block Currently offers 2013 Area Deprivation Index data
Net Migration Patterns for U.S. Counties
Applied Population Laboratory, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Population
Age
Race/ethnicity
Sex
Easy web-based interface County 1950-2010
Opioid Overdose: U.S. Prescribing Rate Maps
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Retail opioid prescriptions Straightforward map-based system State
County
Annual
Population Estimates
U.S. Census Bureau

Access Population Estimates via American Factfinder
Age
Sex
Race and ethnicity
American FactFinder's guided and advanced search options are available National
State
County
Cities and towns
Annual
QuickFacts
U.S. Census Bureau

For detailed information, see:
QuickFacts: What's New & FAQs
Data from multiple Census Bureau censuses, surveys, and programs on the following topics:
Demographics
Housing
Education
Economy
Income and Poverty
Businesses
Easy-to-use
Good starting place for beginner data users
Easy to compare multiple geographies
Includes tables, maps, charts
National
State
County
Cities and towns with population of 5,000 or more
Zip code
Ongoing, as new data is available
Rural Data Portal
Housing Assistance Council
Data from a range of sources on:
Demographics
Social indicators
Economics
Housing
Easy-to-use web-based tool National, with rural option
State, with rural option
County
Small Area Health Insurance Estimates (SAHIE)
U.S. Census Bureau

Access SAHIE Interactive Data Tool
Health insurance coverage by age, race, gender, and income Straightforward web-based tool
Easy-to-find national maps showing county-level data
State
County
Updated annually, but base data may not be as current for all rural areas, because it uses ACS data.
Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE)
U.S. Census Bureau

Access SAIPE Interactive Data Tool

Access SAIPE State and County Maps
Annual model-based estimates for poverty (including children in poverty)
Median household income
Straightforward web-based tool
Easy-to-find national maps showing county-level data
State
County
School District
Updated annually,  but base data may not as current for all rural areas, because it uses ACS data.
State Cancer Profiles
National Cancer Institute
Cancer burden
Screening and risk factors
Demographic data
Easy-to-use web-based system, including mapping National
State
County
Data comes from state public health surveillance systems, so is updated as complete national data is available. State websites may offer more detailed and more current data.
U.S. Diabetes Surveillance System
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Diabetes and related health concerns, including:
Burden of diabetes
Preventive care
Health status and disability
Risk factors
End-stage renal disease
Interactive, customizable map for accessing data.
Select indicators to view the data options.
National
State
County
Annual
Why Not The Best?
The Commonwealth Fund
Data from a range of sources on:
Quality
Patient experience
Outcomes
Health status
Easy system for comparing regions and hospitals State
Hospital Referral Region
County
Hospital
Groups of hospitals, including "average rural" and by bed size
Ongoing
WISQARS
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Metro/nonmetro: Fatal Injury Reports

County: Fatal Injury Maps
Fatal and nonfatal injury
Violent death
Cost of injury
Web-based system with a variety of search options National
Region
State
County
Metropolitan / Non-metropolitan
Data from a variety of sources. Year ranges available vary.

Selected sources identified via:
Using Data to Understand Your Community, Rural Health Value


SHARE THIS PAGE