Rural places and spaces of health and health care

Authored by: Rachel Herron , Mark Skinner

Routledge Handbook of Health Geography

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138098046
eBook ISBN: 9781315104584
Adobe ISBN:


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The study of rural places in health geography is essential to understanding variation in health services, outcomes and experiences. Rural places are distinct in their own right; they are distinct from one another, and they are distinct when compared to urban and metropolitan settings. In general, rural places share particular challenges related to health, including distance and isolation from larger service centers, small populations with specific health needs, lack of secondary and tertiary services, difficulties recruiting and retaining a health workforce and poorer health outcomes and determinants of health (e.g., lower levels of education and income) when compared to their more urban counterparts at the aggregate level (DesMeules et al., 2012). More qualitatively, the health and well-being of people in rural places are shaped by the intersection of particular economic activities, political decisions and sociocultural norms related to gender, race, age and class (Panelli et al., 2009). Looking at these broader trends and the complex forces propelling them, scholars have long suggested that rural places are in need of better health-care services, as well as research attention, advocacy and targeted policies and programs (Gesler and Ricketts, 1992; Hanlon and Kearns, 2017; Kulig and Williams, 2012).

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