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Chronic Condition Rates Highest Among Rural Teens

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, November 2, 2011

For example, Ghandour highlights the following findings:

  • Children in rural areas were more likely to be living in poverty than children in urban areas.  Almost one-quarter of children in both large and small rural areas had household incomes below the federal poverty level compared to 17.4% of urban children. 
  • More than one-third of rural children had public health insurance coverage compared to 27.3% of urban children. 
  • Among children aged 10-17 years, about 35% of rural children were overweight or obese compared to 30.9% of urban children. Rates were highest among poor children in all locations.
  • More than one-third of children in rural areas (33.1% in large rural areas and 35.0% in small rural areas) lived with a smoker compared to one-quarter of urban children.     
  • Urban children were significantly more likely to have ever been breastfed (77%) compared to children in both large and small rural areas (67.6% and 69.8%, respectively).

Although there are rural disparities in some cases, the report showed that in other cases, urban children were worse off. For example, care coordination is a greater challenge for children with special healthcare needs in urban areas, with 58.5% reporting that they received effective care coordination services, compared to 64.2% of those in small rural areas.

Despite the complexity of the issue, when asked what rural hospitals and clinics can do to improve the health of children in their region, Morris' answer was relatively basic.

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