Study finds financial, cultural barriers to care common among rural residents
People living in rural areas have long had difficulty accessing health care, a situation usually attributed to a lack of nearby care providers. But a new study suggests the problem also lies in the financial, cultural and interpersonal challenges many rural residents face when they seek care, especially for chronic conditions.
A team of researchers reviewed 62 studies involving more than 1,350 patients with cancer, behavioral health problems, HIV/AIDS and diabetes living in rural areas. Their goal was to study and synthesize the patients’ experiences when it came to accessing health care services.
The authors found four major “analytic themes,” and accompanying challenges, associated with the patients’ attempts to obtain care for their chronic conditions. They identified these as:
The authors note that despite the overall growth of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been used less for patients in rural settings compared with those in urban areas. They recommend that future researchers explore how telehealth services affect the experience of care access for rural patients with chronic health conditions.
The study, “Rural Patient Experiences of Accessing Care for Chronic Conditions: A Systematic Review and Thematic Synthesis of Qualitative Studies” appears in the May 2022 issue of Annals of Family Medicine.