An overview of rural health care research
Reviews rural health research and evaluation with emphasis on access, manpower and financing. Although rural populations have less access to care, ability to quantify the extent is underdeveloped. Despite a variety of rural health care programs there is inadequate information on effectiveness. Programs to increase health personnel in rural areas have met with mixed success. Physician assistants and nurse practitioners offer a promising source of primary care for rural areas; recent legislation that reimburses such care should increase their use. A persistent problem is the expectation incorporated into many rural demonstrations that the programs become financially self-sufficient after a time. In many instances stringent enforcement of this requirement means that those needing services most will be least likely to receive them. Literature on current rural health programs is summarized and unresolved issues are identified. The authors propose a strategy for further research into various types of rural health care programs.