URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/ruralhealthconcerns.html

Rural Health Concerns

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Around 15 percent of people in the United States live in rural areas. There are many different reasons why you might choose to live in a rural community. You may want a lower cost of living and a slower pace of life. You may enjoy having access to big, open spaces for recreation. Rural areas are less crowded and can offer more privacy. You may choose a rural area so that you can live near your family and friends.

But there are also challenges to living in a rural area, including when it comes to taking care of your health. Compared to urban areas, rural communities tend to have:

  • Higher poverty rates
  • A higher percentage of older adults, who are more likely to have chronic health problems
  • More residents without health insurance
  • Less access to health care. For example, clinics and hospitals may be far away.
  • Higher rates of certain substance use, such as cigarette smoking and opioid and methamphetamine misuse
  • Higher rates of chronic health problems such as high blood pressure and obesity
  • More exposure to environmental hazards, such as chemicals used for farming

There are solutions to deal with these problems. A few examples include

  • Clinics offering telehealth to provide care for people who live far away from specialists or can't easily get to their providers' offices
  • Local public health agencies working with their communities to promote healthy living. They can provide wellness and exercise classes and start a farmer's market.
  • Local governments adding bike lanes and trails to encourage people to bike and walk
  • Rural schools can offer counseling and mental health services for their students

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