Online Program

Health Resources Changed by Rurality and Region: From 2000 to 2010

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Kevin Bennett, PhD, Family & Preventive Medicine, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, Columbia, SC
Janice C. Probst, PhD, University of South Carolina, South Carolina Rural Health Research Center, Columbia, SC
Yu-Hsiu Lin, Ph.D., National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Taichung University of Science and Tecnology, Taichung, Taiwan

Understanding the health care capacity of rural America is vital to understanding what programs, interventions, and policy initiatives are needed to improve health care access, delivery, and outcomes. The purpose of this study is to describe how health care resources changed from 2000 to 2010 by rurality and region.


This analysis used Area Health Resources File (AHRF) available from the Health Resources Services Administration, supplemented by data from the US Census Bureau. All analyses were performed at county level, aggregated to rural and regional classifications in 2000 and 2010. We identified counties as vulnerable in several ways, and identify those areas with the highest vulnerability for reduced access to providers, services, or facilities.


From 2000 to 2010, all areas saw an increase in the number of primary care physicians (PCP), but the population to PCP ratio  increased by 1.2% in counties in the rural South while decreasing in other regions. The urban Northeast was the only region with a decrease in obstetrician/gynecologists (-2.8%) and hospitals (-8.1%) while other regions saw an increase. All regions experienced a decrease in the number of hospital beds and long-term care facilities. For home health agencies, the rural West (-23.3%), rural Midwest (-14.5%), and rural Northeast (-8.6%) decreased while the urban South increased dramatically (138.1%)


Rurality and regional differences in health resources distributions were apparent. There are marked shortages in specific geographic areas, particularly in rural America. Rural areas disproportionately lack hospitals, HHAs, PCPs, and OB/GYN physicians.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the distribution of health resources across levels of rurality and regions, and how that has changed over time.

Keyword(s): Accessibility, Rural Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the data analyst for this study and a research associate in the South Carolina Rural Health Research Center.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.