Rural Health Research

Nineteen percent of the U.S. population lives in rural communities faced with unique health and health care challenges such as access to affordable and quality care, health inequities, high rates of chronic disease, lack of mental health services and shortages of health care providers like family physicians who provide 42% of healthcare to rural regions. The obstacles are greater than those in urban areas, reinforcing the need for more research and innovation to improve health outcomes in these communities.

For more information:
Opioid addiction factsheet
Suicide factsheet
CDC factsheet
AHRQ factsheet
National Rural Health Association
Health Disparities in Appalachia


To the best of your knowledge, would you say
that medical research in the U.S. is conducted
in all 50 states?

Can you name any institution, company or organization
where medical or health research is conducted?


Source: A Research!America survey of U.S. adults conducted in partnership with Zogby Analytics in January 2017. Source: A Research!America survey of U.S. adults conducted in partnership with Zogby Analytics in January 2017.

Rural researchers spotlight

The NIH funded $295M on Rural Health Research in FY2016. Investigators focused on health care delivery and improving outcomes for rural populations.

Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D. - director, Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Nebraska Medicine

The overall goal of Northern Great Plains Personalized Breast Cancer Program (NGPPBCP) was to develop a Precision Cancer Medicine Program that would be available to all breast cancer patients and their regional cancer care providers across the rural Northern Great Plains. Sites from the Northern Great Plains make a concerted effort to send tissues and blood to UNMC to contribute to this program. In collaboration with the Watson Genomics Division of IBM, the results from DNA sequencing analysis of tumor and normal cells performed at the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center from breast cancer patients enrolled on the NGPPBCP, are used to identify the specific genetic changes that drive tumor cell growth. That information is then used to identify any agents or drugs that can inhibit genetic drivers of the cancer. “As the incidence of cancer increases, this collaboration presents unique opportunities to allow researchers to study causes of cancer in rural communities and analyze specific risk factors such as environmental agents used (farming versus ranching) and use this information to develop specific treatment prevention and screen for high risk individuals to improve survival.”

Marvella Ford, Ph.D - associate director of cancer disparities at Hollings Cancer CenterMedical University of South Carolina

Dr. Ford's research evaluates the impact of patient navigation interventions on health care behavior to develop and test methods for improving cancer surveillance compliance. Focusing on rural South Carolina regions, her research has identified healthcare access and delivery barriers for cancer screenings contribute to an increased prevalence of preventable cancers among rural residents.  Dr. Ford has led the charge to affect change with the MOVENUP Initiative, (Mobile Outreach Van, Educational, and Navigational Health Services for Underserved Populations) which provides mobile health units and patient navigation services, cancer education and screening services, follow up care and training, and nutrition and physical activity education to rural South Carolina.




Policy Contacts

Funding research gives all of us a better chance of living a healthier life.
Pam Hirata, heart disease survivor