Health Disparities and the Behavioral Patterns in Rural Communities

Table of Contents


Many researchers opine that people in rural areas have little or no access to health care, preventive screening, and treatment for chronic diseases among others. This is because features of land offer many resources that determine the way communities live. Geographic isolation, caused by natural and human-created boundaries also contributes to health disparities. For instance, mountains, rivers, railroads, tracks, and bridges among others, bar rural communities from accessing health care services.


People in urban areas are more likely to access health care services and products than their rural counterparts. The urban centres are associated with good paying jobs, improved job safety measures, and good infrastructure among other things. On the contrary, people living in rural areas are poorly paid, work in unsafe conditions, and go to hospitals that do not provide all hospital services. This clearly shows that occupation has an influence on health disparities.


A good infrastructure supports developments of all calibres in many ways. It involves various systems and structures. Building a good infrastructure requires personnel and financial resources. These resources are limited in rural areas. Therefore, expanding local health services to rural areas becomes a problem. Lack of reliable infrastructure influences behavioural patterns and health disparities.


Considering that the out-migration of young persons is very common in these areas, many people who live in rural areas are old. They are also prone to chronic conditions, making it strenuous for the health resources in these regions. The X-generation in rural areas is more affected by chronic diseases, compared to that of the urban centres of the US. In 2007, the New York Times reported on the increased mortality rates in Mississippi (a rural area) (Casey, Vanderpool, Crosby & Wendel, 2013). This makes demographic factors influence health disparities.

Digital divide

Digital divide involves accessing and using the internet. Many rural homes have little or no broadband access. On the contrary, the urban people have access to the internet because of high adoption of technologies in urban centres. This means that the people living in rural areas rarely access health care information, compared to their urban counterparts. This clearly indicates that the digital divide has an influence on behavioural patterns in rural communities and health disparities.

Access to care

Having looked at the factors above, it is clear that rural people have difficulties accessing health care products and services. For instance, they lack enough finance, are old, and there are no transportation and communication networks to help them access these resources. This is different to people living in urban areas.

Social capital

Rural people are associated with strong social networks, strong faith, and spirituality among others. In relation to health care disparities, the rural people are likely to receive material support from their close allies and relatives, compared to their urban counterparts. This affirms the influence of social capital on health disparities.

Political voice

People can empower themselves by finding strategies to improve their health status or conditions, through political voice. For instance, they can organize riots in one accord if they are not satisfied by the health products and services that are given to them. They can also use their leaders to represent them on health related issues, in order to be supported by governments. The political leaders in urban centres are more vocal than their rural counterparts. This shows the influence of political voice on health disparities.


Casey, B. R., Vanderpool, R. C., Crosby, R. A., & Wendel, M. L. (2013). Rural populations and health: Determinants, disparities, and solutions. San Francisco, Calif: Jossey-Bass.

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