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New study showed that rural Americans have less access to mental health and hospital services

Updated: Apr 4

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) funded two studies which showed that the rural Americans have less access to the mental health and hospital services. The study highlighted that one in every five Americans had less access to mental health and hospital services.


In one of the studies conducted between 2010 and 2015, patients residing in the rural areas have less access to mental health and hospital services compared to their urban counterparts. Rural patients often don’t have access to diagnostic imaging and primary care.


“Our small towns and farm communities are part of the essential fabric of the country, but healthcare in rural America is stretched too thin,” said AHRQ Director Gopal Khanna.


In another study, AHRQ researchers found a contract difference between the urban and rural population in terms of mental care. Urban parts of the United States were more likely to have psychiatrist compared to the rural population. Also, patients living in the rural areas visit the psychiatrist less compared to the patients in the urban pockets. The results were obtained from “Rural Residents with Mental Health Needs Have Fewer Care Visits Than Urban Counterparts Link to Exit Disclaimer.”


As per another study, “Access, Quality, and Financial Performance of Rural Hospitals Following Health System Affiliation Link to Exit Disclaimer,” hospitals in the rural pockets are affiliating with a health system. This improved the operating margins; however, American Hospital Association and the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services data shows that the hospitals associated with the health systems had fewer onsite diagnostic imaging technologies, fewer obstetric and primary care services and fewer outpatient nonemergency visits.


As per 2010 US Census, 19.3% of national population resides in rural areas.

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