Background: This study examined rural-urban differences in utilization of preventive healthcare services and assessed the impact of rural residence, demographic factors, health insurance status, and health system characteristics on the likelihood of obtaining each service.
Methods: National data from the 1997 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and the 1999 Area Resource File were used to evaluate the adequacy of preventive services obtained by rural and urban women and men, using three sets of nationally accepted preventive services guidelines from the American Cancer Society, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, and Healthy People 2010. Logistic regression models were developed to control for the effect of demographic factors, health insurance status, and health system characteristics.
Results: Rural residents are less likely than urban residents to obtain certain preventive health services and are further behind urban residents in meeting Healthy People 2010 objectives.
Conclusions: Efforts to increase rural preventive services utilization need to build on federal, state, and community-based initiatives and to recognize the special challenges that rural areas present.