What Is Rural? Challenges And Implications Of Definitions That Inadequately Encompass Rural People And Places

Kevin J. Bennett, Tyrone F. Borders, George M. Holmes, Katy Backes Kozhimannil, Erika Ziller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Monitoring and improving rural health is challenging because of varied and conflicting concepts of just what rural means. Federal, state, and local agencies and data resources use different definitions, which may lead to confusion and inequity in the distribution of resources depending on the definition used. This article highlights how inconsistent definitions of rural may lead to measurement bias in research, the interpretation of research outcomes, and differential eligibility for rural-focused grants and other funding. We conclude by making specific recommendations on how policy makers and researchers could use these definitions more appropriately, along with definitions we propose, to better serve rural residents. We also describe concepts that may improve the definition of and frame the concept of rurality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1985-1992
Number of pages8
JournalHealth affairs (Project Hope)
Volume38
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

Keywords

  • Access to care
  • Emergency departments
  • Health disparities
  • Health policy
  • Hospital closures
  • Populations
  • Public health
  • Rural health care

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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