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Rural Life Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, July 24, 2013

"First, it is important to try to dispel the myth that cities are dangerous and this information shows that when you consider injury-related death, overall cities aren't more dangerous. In fact we found them to be safer," she says.  

"Second, we saw the predominance of injury-related death risk tended to be in areas of the country where we have the least access to emergency physicians and trauma care and maybe we should use this to do more of a population planning evaluation of how do we put the resources where the needs are as opposed to what is happening now, which is a little more organic."

For example, Myers' data showed that elderly falls represented a more significant injury death risk in urban areas than in rural areas. "So it may be more cost-effective and effective in general to tailor safety and injury prevention in urban areas around falls among the elderly, rather than what we are doing now, which is a bit of a global technique of 'here is something that is important in safety. Let's do something to prevent it across the country,'" she says. "There may be parts of the country where you don't need that same message with whatever it is you are trying to change."

As a practical tool, Myers says her study underscores the implications of proper staffing of emergency departments and trauma care systems in rural areas, which she says tend to be underserved as it is.

"It can only help in the quest to make sure rural hospitals have access to the resources that are needed to care for the population they're serving," she says. "There are lots of rural emergency departments that are staffed by people who may or may not have the full training they need to care for these patients who are severely injured or severely sick. This could help support them as they are trying to move forward."  


John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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2 comments on "Rural Life Can Be Hazardous to Your Health"


Dave Mittman, PA, DFAAPA (7/25/2013 at 11:52 AM)
The article's conclusions are too simplistic. Are the accidents more severe? Cars can drive much faster. People who are impaired drive without a red light every block so when they hit things they hit them faster. Rural people farm and use equipment that cause injuries, they tend not to sit in cubicles. Even rural sports are more extreme. Take into account the TIME it takes EMTS to reach people and stabilize them and transport them back. All really not a problem in the city. Even with the best ER people the patients come in sicker at times because of that. There are great clinicians in rural areas. There are some not so good. Same in cities. That being said if you have major trauma and can get to a major trauma center, you have a better change of living. Hard to separate the differing reasons for not doing as well though.

Thomas (7/25/2013 at 9:19 AM)
There are any number of reasons for this difference: the rural population is older; rural jobs tend to be more hazardous; rural homes and worksites are isolated and sometimes far from medical services; rural car crashes tend to occur at higher speeds and are often side-impacting "T" collisions or head-on.