New Study to Give More Answers on Rural Healthcare Problems

There are still some people, especially the older generation, who are under the belief that urban living or living in the city centre is an automatic ‘death sentence’ with the evident threat of more exposure to toxins, air pollutants, and even unhealthy diet practices. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has voiced its concerns pertaining to these health risks. However, new research can potentially shine more light to the contrary, that rural living poses serious health problems as well.

The new project, called The Risk Underlying Rural Areas Longitudinal Study, will be performed by the Boston University’s School of Medicine and the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed), to understand the healthcare systems in the rural south and whether individuals live longer then those in the city. Lead investigator of the research, Vasan Ramachandran, confirmed by saying; “We aim to understand the rural health challenges in the south and share our findings with and offer health education to these rural communities.” He goes on continuing to explain the challenges faced with rural health disparities and that these communities are highly vulnerable.

The research will examine 4000 participants from 10 different economically deprived rural counties within the United States like in the Appalachia Region and the Mississippi Delta. Further examination will be done on the lifestyle and access to healthcare facilities with relation to a variety of ailments like heart, blood and lung diseases.

Rural healthcare disparities have been hinted in the past, initiating federal, state, or medical organisations to take immediate action, but a study like this one has yet to be completed. Previous research conducted by the WHO has indicated poverty as the culprit behind health issues occurring as rates a relatively higher than those in the city. However, the reality is that for years, the rural area has been neglected to be properly analysed of its healthcare system’s performance so the differences between the rural and the urban territories has been unclear. A comprehensive look at all major issues within the health system functions is needed so as to get the full spectrum at the problem in hand.

This is what the team at LA Biomed and Boston University hope to achieve. While the case study will currently be limited to the United States at first, if successful, future testing can be used as a template for other countries to execute. At the moment, the team is excited to finally be able to carry out this critical project. Lead researcher at LA BioMed, Matthew Budoff, reiterates, “We are excited about being part of the most important cardiovascular study facing our nation today, specifically why there is such a disparity in health in those who live in the rural south. We hope to find those factors that are causing excess harm and be able to address these risks to improve the health of this population.”

References:

  1. New Study to Examine Why People in the Rural South Have Worse Health, May 2019, IDigitalHealth
  2. Rural Health Disparities, RHI Hub
  3. Rural poverty and health systems in the WHO European Region, Euro WHO
  4. Health, Environment and Sustainability, WHO