Announcements from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

November 20, 2017

The latest edition of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) Rural Health Series looks at racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes for people living in rural areas.

According to data collected from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, racial and ethnic minorities fare worse than non-Hispanic whites in rural areas across many indicators of health, and each population faces specific challenges, for example:

  • American Indian/Alaskan Natives reported higher rates of depression;
  • Asians and Pacific Islanders experienced challenges in access to health care;
  • Non-Hispanic blacks have higher rates of overweight and severe obesity.

The study reports that “unhealthy behaviors and social circumstances contribute proportionately more to premature death than does inadequate health care” and also reveals difficulties among non-Hispanic whites in these areas. But few studies have examined racial/ethnic disparities within rural communities and the report concludes that more research is needed to understand the interaction between race/ethnicity and geography in affecting health outcomes.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Minority Health took the lead on this report, and they point to the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services, known as CLAS, as a resource to help improve the quality of services provided to all individuals, reduce disparities, and achieve health equity.

CMS also launched a new website on rural health and health equity initiatives.  And you can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for A-Z Health Topics Impacting Rural Americans.

View the full report:  Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities Among Rural Adults – United States, 2012-2015