What’s in the way? Examining barriers to health care in rural settings
Health disparities between rural and urban populations have been a rising concern with many health care providers, but is increasing within the general public as well. Each population experiences different barriers or obstacles to achieving the health services they need. The U.S. Census Bureau defines rural as “all population, housing, or territory not included within an urban area” (United States Census Bureau, 2020). Urban areas are defined as having “a population of 50,000 or more people” (United States Census Bureau, 2020). Healthy People 2020 provides the following examples of barriers to health services: “High cost of health care, inadequate or no insurance, lack of availability of services, and lack of culturally competent care” (2020). The purpose of this evidence-based practice review is to identify barriers that exist for patients living in rural settings compared to those living in urban settings that interfere with receiving health care. This information can be used to help educate nurses and other healthcare providers. By having a deeper understanding of the obstacles to care, healthcare professionals can further advocate and educate their patients who are exposed to these barriers. With this awareness, professionals can also expand their resources and better coordinate care across the multidisciplinary team to help improve health outcomes.