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Health Topics - Rural Health

Rural Areas have unique populations, infrastructure and health systems


There are significant regional and demographic differences among rural communities in the United States. Although their locations may differ, many rural Americans share common beliefs and values, such as resilience, self-reliance, and pride in the communities where they live.1

These beliefs, coupled with the close social connections, can contribute to successful health interventions. However, some elements of rural communities can make population health interventions more challenging.1 This may mean developing and evaluating new interventions or adapting existing interventions to account for the specific demographic, economic, and health care needs of individual communities.

Update for Rural Partners and Communities on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Response


To address health disparities in rural areas, you may want to consider using policies that address population health. These policies can reach beyond health care and offer opportunities to make an impact where people live, learn, work, and play.

CDC rural health policy briefs provide examples of policy options to address public health issues. They include information on the background and significance of the issue, as well as case examples.

Providing Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support for Rural Americanspdf icon

This policy brief presents a selection of potential policies and practices that may help rural residents access Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support.

Preventing and Treating Cancer in Rural Americapdf icon

This policy brief presents a selection of potential policies and practices that may help prevent and treat cancer in rural areas.

Access to Mental Health Services for Children in Rural Areaspdf icon

This policy brief presents a selection of potential policies and practices that may help rural children with mental, behavioral, or developmental disorders access behavioral health services.

Protecting Rural Americans from Motor Vehicle Deathspdf icon

This policy brief presents potential policies that could increase seat belt use by rural Americans.

Preventing Opioid Overdoses in Rural Americapdf icon

This policy brief presents a selection of policy options and other strategies that may address factors affecting opioid overdoses in rural America.

Preventing Suicide in Rural Americapdf icon

This policy brief presents a selection of potential policies and practices that may address factors leading to suicide in rural areas.

The Science

Rural-focused MMWRs

CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) – Rural Health Series

2018-2019 Rural-focused MMWRs

November 8, 2019

October 18, 2019

August 23, 2019

June 28, 2019

June 21, 2019

June 14, 2019

May 3, 2019

January 1, 2019

August 24, 2018

June 15, 2018

February 23, 2018

NCHS Data Briefs

Healthcare Providers & Facilities

Physician Assistant and Advance Practice Nurse Care in Hospital Outpatient Departments: United States, 2008–2009

Role of International Medical Graduates Providing Office-based Medical Care: United States, 2005-2006

State Variability in Supply of Office-based Primary Care Providers: United States, 2012

Rural Residents Who Are Hospitalized in Rural and Urban Hospitals: United States, 2010

Rural and Urban Hospitals’ Role in Providing Inpatient Care, 2010

Healthcare Services

Routine Prenatal Care Visits by Provider Specialty in the United States, 2009–2010

Mental Health-related Physician Office Visits by Adults Aged 18 and Over: United States, 2012–2014

Child and Adult Mortality

Suicide Mortality in the United States, 1999–2017

Unintentional Injury Death Rates in Rural and Urban Areas: United States, 1999–2017

Urban–rural Differences in Drug Overdose Death Rates, by Sex, Age, and Type of Drugs Involved, 2017

Deaths From Unintentional Injury Among Adults Aged 65 and Over: United States, 2000–2013

Differences in Stroke Mortality Among Adults Aged 45 and Over: United States, 2010–2013

Infant Mortality

Differences Between Rural and Urban Areas in Mortality Rates for the Leading Causes of Infant Death: United States, 2013–2015

Infant Mortality Rates in Rural and Urban Areas in the United States, 2014

Maternal and Infant Health

Teen Birth Rates for Urban and Rural Areas in the United States, 2007–2015

Urban and Rural Variation in Fertility-related Behavior Among U.S. Women, 2011–2015

Trends in Fertility and Mother’s Age at First Birth Among Rural and Metropolitan Counties: United States, 2007–2017

Featured Resources

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CDC Rural Health Research and Resources

CDC’s rural health website includes information and examples of successful public health interventions for rural communities. The website also hosts CDC’s MMWR series which provide data on health issues affecting rural Americans.

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Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP)external icon

FORHP advises the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services about health care issues affecting rural communities.

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Rural Health Information (RHI) Hubexternal icon

The RHIhub is a clearinghouse of information on rural health issues. It also provides current resources on rural health care and population health including toolkits and models for programs that work in rural communities.

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Rural Health Research Gatewayexternal icon

The Rural Health Research Gateway provides access to research conducted by the Rural Health Research Centers, including rural health research products and journal articles.

  1. Crosby, R. A., Wendel, M. L., Vanderpool, R. C., & Casey, B. R. (2012). Rural Populations and Health: Determinants, Disparities, and Solutions. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.