Rural mental health workforce needs assessment - a national survey

Rural Remote Health. 2012;12:2176. Epub 2012 Oct 8.


Introduction: A variety of studies have indicated that rural communities have fewer mental health services and professionals than their urban counterparts. This study will examine the shortages of mental health professionals in rural communities as well as the impact of inadequate mental health services access on rural hospitals.

Methods: A sample frame of 1162 rural hospitals was compiled, and a two-page survey was mailed to each hospital Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

Results: Of the 1162 surveys mailed, 228 were returned. The majority of CEOs agreed that there was a shortage of mental health professionals, that referral centers were too distant, and that there were many barriers to care including infrastructure, poverty, and substance abuse. Solutions offered by CEOs included telemedicine and residency training programs.

Conclusions: This study shows that many rural areas have great need for more mental health professional recruitment and retention.

MeSH terms

  • Appointments and Schedules
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Chief Executive Officers, Hospital / psychology*
  • Chief Executive Officers, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics
  • Health Services Accessibility / standards*
  • Hospitals, Rural*
  • Humans
  • Insurance Coverage / statistics & numerical data
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Normal Distribution
  • Personnel Selection
  • Personnel, Hospital / supply & distribution*
  • Professional Practice Location
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Travel / statistics & numerical data
  • United States
  • Workforce