Health Disparities and Children in Rural Areas

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has released a report on U.S. rural children and their health, called The Health and Well-Being of Children in Rural Areas: A Portrait of the Nation 2007. Compared to urban areas, children living in rural locations are more likely to face adverse health outcomes.

The study uses parental responses from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) (2011 NSCH data collection is expected to be complete in March 2012). Health indicators include children’s body mass index (BMI), behaviors, skills, chronic disease status, access to health care, socioeconomic status, family structure, parental wellbeing, and community protective and risk factors. Statistically significant comparisons are at the 0.05 level.

The disparities seen in this population may be related to the fact that that children in rural areas are more likely to be poor than those in urban districts. About 23% of children living rurally are part of households with income below the federal poverty line compared to 17% of children in urban areas.  Socioeconomic status is related to poor access to care and thus health problems. Although there are other differences in this population compared to children in other areas, it will be necessary to focus efforts at these correlations.

To see the report, methodology and results, visit the Maternal and Child Health Bureau’s (MCHB) site: