Researchers Probe Rural Death Rate Increase

Four key reasons identified in the mortality trend


 
 

ERIK HOGSTROM, Telegraph Herald | | Thursday, July 8, 2010


Over the past few decades, the number of deaths among rural Americans has surpassed the number of deaths for those who live in metropolitan areas, according to Mississippi State University researchers.

For about a century, those who lived in what are classified as rural areas lived longer than city dwellers, but that trend began to reverse in the mid-1980s.

Researchers analyzed mortality data covering the years 1968 to 2005 obtained from the National Center for Health Statistics. The findings were published June 17 in the American Journal of Public Health.

Here are some reasons why city versus rural mortality trends appear to have reversed:

Access to care in rural areas

"Grant County is rural, and we are also a health care provider shortage area," said Jeff Kindrai, administrator of the Grant County (Wis.) Health Department.

Relatively limited access to health care providers could prohibit some people from enjoying the benefits of preventive care and could make it more difficult for them to see a specialist in a timely manner.

"There are fewer doctors in rural areas, and most of the doctors in rural areas are not specialists; they are general practitioners," said Peg Murphy, administrator of the Jo Daviess County (Ill.) Health Department.

Limited access to a specialist could result in a lag in receiving treatment for diseases such as cancer.

Changes in rural health behaviors

"You have to look at lifestyle," said Jackson County (Iowa) Public Health Department Administrator Frank Frieberg. "Traditionally, there was a lot of strenuous activity associated with people living in rural areas. These days, many rural residents are merely city dwellers who have moved to the countryside."

People in rural areas traditionally had easy access to healthy food.

"Now, in Grant County, we are working on increasing levels of physical activity and consumption of fruits and vegetables," Kindrai said.

The University of Wisconsin recently ranked Grant County 71st out of 72 Wisconsin counties in fruit and vegetable intake.

Rates of people without insurance coverage

A study from the Urban Institute found that 22 percent of people younger than 65 in rural areas were uninsured, compared to 14 percent of urban residents.

In addition, average incomes generally are lower in rural areas than in urban ones, depressing insurance coverage.

Rates of disease occurrences in rural areas

Researchers noted that heart disease, cancer and stroke are the top three causes of death in rural areas. Rural living could pose a logistical challenge in treating these conditions.

"If you had a heart attack (in a rural area), you could have a 15-minute ambulance wait compared to a five-minute ambulance wait (in the city)," Frieberg said.



Copyright © 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, rural EMS

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Community Paramedicine Expanding in Maine

Eight departments receive a grant for use towards the new program.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

New Ambulance, Fire Engine Approved for Illinois Department

Officials approve new purchases for Bloomington.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Alabama Officials Worry over Ambulance Coverage

County officials work to find best solution.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Car Crashes into Texas Ambulance

Ambulance hit while responding to a call.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

California Beach Lightning Strike MCI

More than a dozen injured in Venice Beach lighting strike.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >