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Disparities in health among rural residents are well documented.  The following comments are excerpts from a report entitled:  Health, United States, With Rural and Urban Health Chartbook, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics; 2001. While these are national data, it is unlikely that Oregon data would be significantly different.  However, Oregon based research would be a valuable tool for Oregon policy makers.


Living in a rural area is in itself a health risk factor due to numerous associated factors that can adversely influence health and access to healthcare.  The following data provide facts and contributing factors regarding rural health disparities:


  • Death rates for children and young adults (ages 1-24 years) are higher in the most rural counties;
  • For men 20 years and over, death rates for chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) are lowest in large metro counties and highest in non-metro counties;
  • Death rates from unintentional injuries increase greatly as counties become less urban;
  • Death rates for motor vehicle-related injuries in most rural counties are over twice as high as the rates in central counties of large metro areas;
  • Suicide rates for males 15 years and over are lowest in large metro counties and increase steadily as counties become less urban;
  • Rural residents are more likely to describe their overall health status as fair/poor than urban residents;
  • Chronic illnesses are more prevalent in rural areas;
  • Remote areas have limited access to health care services;
  • In 1998, there were six times as many general pediatricians per 100,000 population in central counties of large metro areas as in the most rural counties (24 compared with 4 per 100,000) and five times as many general internists (52 compared with 10 per 100,000);
  • Rural counties are less likely to have employer-provided health insurance coverage  and tend to be poorer (per capita income is on an average, $7,417 lower than in urban areas);
  • Rural population is typically more elderly; have lower socioeconomic and educational status; and there are cultural and social differences;
  • In 1997-1998, 71 percent of rural adults, ages 18-64 years living in metro areas, reported a dental visit in the past year compared with 57 percent in the most rural counties; and
  • There is a lack of recognition and priority by legislators for rural health concerns.  (Emphasis added.)



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