Rural Communities

More than 46 million Americans, or 15% of the U.S. population, live in rural areas, and rural Americans face health disparities compared with their urban counterparts. Rural communities experience significant health disparities characterized by geographic isolation, poverty, more risky behaviors, and limited access to specialty care, in turn leading to lower life expectancy. For example, residents in rural areas are less likely to have employer-provided health insurance, and more likely to live in a federally-designated Health Professional Shortage Area for mental and primary care providers. 


People living in rural communities are at higher risk of dying from preventable illnesses like diabetes, respiratory diseases, and heart attack. The COVID‐19 public health crisis exacerbated disparities for rural communities and underscored the need for diverse community-centered approaches in health research and dedicated funding to rural service agencies and populations. In general, residents of rural areas in the United States tend to be older and sicker than their urban counterparts. Racial and ethnic minorities and communities with low-socioeconomic status are most susceptible to poor health outcomes in rural America.


Higher rates of poverty, limited access to healthcare, higher rates of cigarette smoking, obesity, fatal car crashes, drug overdoses, suicide, and higher blood pressure all contribute to worse health outcomes in rural America. Social isolation, economic challenges, and higher rates of risky behaviors in rural America add to the vulnerability of residents, predominantly children and seniors of color. There are significant challenges to the provision of adequate quality care in rural America, including aging health infrastructure, less influence on policy changes, and physical isolation from commercial and government services. These challenges highlight the need for additional attention and resources aimed at improving health in rural America.


Improving health outcomes in rural America will benefit the local, state, and national health and healthcare access. Working to improve access to high-quality and affordable health care is significant to rural America’s social, physical, and mental health. For instance, high-quality care in inpatient and outpatient settings will assist in protecting and improving health and reduce the likelihood of rural communities’ receiving inappropriate or inadequate treatment. Specifically, rural communities can benefit from promoting the need for physical activity and healthy eating to reduce obesity and diabetes, and encouraging safe driving and smoking cessation, the most prevalent factor for chronic lower respiratory disease. 

Resources & Tools


Screen capture of Kern County's Land-Use and Transportation Plan webpage
Kern County’s Land-Use and Transportation Plan
Resource
Brought to you by Health Impact Project
Home page of the POLARIS website
POLARIS
Tool - Toolkit/toolbox
Screen capture America’s Farmers: Resilient Throughout the COVID Pandemic
America’s Farmers: Resilient Throughout the COVID Pandemic
Resource - Blog
Brought to you by USDA
Cover page of A Guide to Working with Rural Philanthropy document
A Guide to Working with Rural Philanthropy
Resource - Guide/handbook
Brought to you by RHI Hub
Graphic depicting key elements of the Health Impact Assessment Report entitled Kansas Corporate Farming Law which includes icons related to the following: built environment; rural communities; Rural; Primary research;
Kansas Corporate Farming Law
Resource - Assessment
Brought to you by Health Impact Project
Published on 02/28/2015
First page of Systems Thinking at the Georgia Health Policy Center fact sheet
Systems Thinking at the Georgia Health Policy Center
Resource - Fact Sheet
Brought to you by Georgia Health Policy Center
Screen capture of Rural Peoples' Voice webpage
Rural People's Voice
Resource - Website/webpage
Graphic depicting key elements of the Health Impact Assessment Report entitled Proposed Coal Mine at Wishbone Hill which includes icons related to the following: clean air; rural communities; Rural; Qualitative research; thriving natural world
Proposed Coal Mine at Wishbone Hill
Resource - Assessment
Brought to you by Health Impact Project
Published on 02/29/2012
Cover page of Data Spotlight: Challenges in Rural Banking Access report
Data Spotlight: Challenges in Rural Banking Access
Resource - Report
Brought to you by CFPB
Graphic depicting key elements of the Health Impact Assessment Report entitled Connecting Rural Communities: U.S. 30 & Rainier Veterans Way Crossing which includes icons related to the following: traffic safety; rural communities; Rural; Mixed methods; reliable transportation
Connecting Rural Communities: U.S. 30 and Rainier Veterans Way Crossing
Resource - Assessment
Brought to you by Health Impact Project
Published on 07/31/2015
Graphic depicting key elements of the Health Impact Assessment Report entitled Santiam Canyon Wildfire Recovery which includes icons related to the following: environmental health, housing, food access; older adults, rural communities; Rural; Mixed methods; thriving natural world, humane housing, basic needs for health and safety
Santiam Canyon Wildfire Recovery
Resource - Assessment
Screen capture of In Common Newsletter: Black Voices Special Edition 2024
In Common Newsletter: Black Voices Special Edition 2024
Resource
Brought to you by Community Commons
Published on 02/23/2024
Screen shot of the front cover of the report
Rural Community Action Guide Promising Practices Supplement
Resource - Guide/handbook
Brought to you by USDA
Screen capture of Rural Poverty and Well-Being
Rural Poverty and Well-Being
Resource
Brought to you by USDA Economic Research Service
Cover page of What Works? Strategies to Improve Rural Health
What Works? Strategies to Improve Rural Health
Resource - Report
Brought to you by University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute
Screen capture of the Rural Data Gateway
Rural Data Gateway
Resource - Data Bank/repository
Brought to you by USDA
Cover page for report on childhood obesity prevention
Childhood Obesity Prevention Strategies for Rural Communities
Resource
Brought to you by Nemours Children's Health System
Screen grab of Firm and Regional Economic Outcomes Associated with a New, Broad Measure of Business Innovation
Firm and Regional Economic Outcomes Associated with a New, Broad Measure of Business Innovation
Resource - Journal Article
Brought to you by Taylor & Francis
Screen capture of Broadband Connection in Rural Communities blog post
Broadband Connection in Rural Communities
Resource - Blog
Brought to you by ChangeLab Solutions
Graphic depicting key elements of the Health Impact Assessment Report entitled Hood River Farmland Rezone which includes icons related to the following: parks; rural communities; Rural; Primary research; belonging and civic muscle
Hood River Farmland Rezone
Resource - Assessment
Brought to you by Health Impact Project
Screen shot of the Thrive Allen County homepage
Thrive Allen County
Resource - Website/webpage
Brought to you by Thrive
PDF Cover: Improving Rural Oral Healthcare Access
Improving Rural Oral Healthcare Access
Resource - Policy Brief
Brought to you by NRHA
Places of Possibility Placemaking Toolkit
Places of Possibility: Public Art and Placemaking Toolkit for Rural Communities
Resource
Brought to you by Jackson Hole Public Art
Screen shot of the homepage
Thriving Together: Place
Resource - Website/webpage
Graphic depicting key elements of the Health Impact Assessment Report entitled Active Transportation in Sierra Vista which includes icons related to the following: active transportation; rural communities; Rural; Mixed methods; reliable transportation
Active Transportation in Sierra Vista
Resource - Assessment
Brought to you by Health Impact Project
Published on 08/13/2016
PDF Cover: A Playbook for New Rural Healthcare Partnership Models of Investment
A Playbook for New Rural Healthcare Partnership Models of Investment
Resource - Guide/handbook
Brought to you by Build Healthy Places Network
Cover page of The Persistence of Poverty in Rural America
The Persistence of Poverty in Rural America
Resource - Report
Brought to you by HAC
Graphic depicting key elements of the Health Impact Assessment Report entitled Kane County Farmland Protection which includes icons related to the following: complete communities; rural communities; Rural; Primary research;
Kane County Farmland Protection
Resource - Assessment
Brought to you by Health Impact Project
Screen capture of the Rural Policymaking webpage
Rural Policymaking
Resource
Brought to you by ChangeLab Solutions
Screen capture of Funding Rural Podcast webpage
Funding Rural Podcast
Resource - Podcast
Brought to you by Roundhouse Foundation
Screen shot of article table: Rural Tribe Health
Rural Tribal Health
Resource - Website/webpage
Brought to you by RHI Hub
Cover page of Wild, Wonderful & Healthy West Virginia Policy Scan
Wild, Wonderful & Healthy West Virginia Policy Scan
Resource - Guide/handbook
Brought to you by Build Healthy Places Network
Screenshot of NEJM Article: Supporting Climate, Health, and Equity Under the Farm Bill
NEJM Article: Supporting Climate, Health, and Equity Under the Farm Bill
Resource - Journal Article
Brought to you by APHA
Graphic depicting key elements of the Health Impact Assessment Report entitled 2002 Federal Farm Bill which includes icons related to the following: nutrition; rural communities; Rural; Literature Review; basic needs for health and safety
2002 Federal Farm Bill
Resource - Assessment
Brought to you by Health Impact Project
Published on 11/30/2004
Photo of a distressed young person, presumably a teenager, looking at a positive pregnancy test
Teen Pregnancy in New Mexico
Story - Original
Brought to you by Community Commons
Published on 03/01/2017
Screen capture of How Struggling Dayton, Ohio, Reveals the Chasm Among American Cities
How Struggling Dayton, Ohio, Reveals the Chasm Among American Cities
Story - Written
Brought to you by ProPublica
Children stand amidst a spray of water and rainbow
Healthy in the Hills: Our Story
Story - Written
Brought to you by 100MHL
Published on 09/01/2020
Screen capture of Some Rural Areas Are Better for Economic Mobility
Some Rural Areas Are Better for Economic Mobility
Story - Written
Brought to you by CityLab
Photo of a yellow street sign that has a graduation cap icon on it
Mapping Access to Higher Education in Rural Areas
Story - Original
Brought to you by Community Commons
Published on 12/15/2016
Screen capture of Where the Small-Town American Dream Lives On
Where the Small-Town American Dream Lives On
Story - Written
Brought to you by TNY
Life Off the Highway: A Snapshot of Rural America
Story - Written
Brought to you by Community Commons
Photo of a person using a walker
Disability in Rural America
Story - Original
Brought to you by Community Commons
Published on 02/07/2017
Photo of the Young Black Climate Leaders 2023 Cohort with People's Climate Innovation Center Staff
Centering Young Black Leaders in the Face of a Looming Climate Crisis
Story - Original
Brought to you by Community Commons
Published on 02/22/2024
Screen capture of Promoting Health Equity in Rural Communities story
Promoting Health Equity in Rural Communities
Story - Written
Brought to you by ChangeLab Solutions
Published on 12/13/2022
Homes on the Range: Homeownership Rates Are Higher in Rural America
Story - Written
Brought to you by Community Commons
Screen capture of COVID-19 Fallout Hits Farmers
COVID-19 Fallout Hits Farmers
Story - Written
Brought to you by APA
Screen capture of Methamphetamine Roils Rural Towns Again Across The U.S.
Methamphetamine Roils Rural Towns Again Across The U.S.
Story - Written
Brought to you by NPR
Screen capture of Rural Health Literacy Toolkit
Rural Health Literacy Toolkit
Tool - Toolkit/toolbox
Screen grab of Rural Health Equity Toolkit
Rural Health Equity Toolkit
Tool - Toolkit/toolbox
Screen capture of the Rural Transportation Toolkit
Rural Transportation Toolkit
Tool - Toolkit/toolbox
Screen capture of A Rural Capacity Map
A Rural Capacity Map
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
Screen shot of the homepage
Am I Rural? -Tool
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
Screen grab of Rural Oral Health Toolkit
Rural Oral Health Toolkit
Tool - Toolkit/toolbox

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