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National publication by School of Public Health identifies rural America’s top health priorities

Rural Healthy People 2030 indicates mental health and addiction are rising concerns, but access to quality health care is still a serious issue
aerial view over a rural town - rural healthy people

The Southwest Rural Health Research Center at the Texas A&M University School of Public Health has released Rural Healthy People 2030—a companion piece to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Healthy People 2030. Rural Healthy People is published once each decade to identify the most important priorities from Healthy People for rural America stakeholders. This is the third iteration of this work for the center, and it can be downloaded for free at

“We are thrilled to have continued this rich tradition at the Southwest Rural Health Research Center in producing Rural Healthy People 2030, which will serve as a guide for those involved in improving opportunities for rural Americans to thrive and achieve optimal well-being over the next decade,” said Alva O. Ferdinand, DrPH, JD, head of the Department of Health Policy and Management and director of the Southwest Rural Health Research Center.

Researchers asked 1,475 health care professionals, government officials, researchers and others working to improve health and quality of life in rural communities questions about their views on the 62 Healthy People 2030 priorities. Each respondent listed the 10 most crucial goals and priorities for their communities and ranked the three most critical issues in order of importance.

For the first time across three decades of Rural Healthy People, a greater proportion of respondents selected mental health, mental disorders and addiction as Healthy People priorities for rural America than health care access and quality. Even still, respondents ranked health care access and quality as the single-most important rural priority. Economic stability debuted within the 10 most frequently selected priorities for rural America for the coming decade.

“We hope that this free resource will be of assistance to policymakers, their legislative staffers, rural health care providers, public health practitioners, rural planners and developers, researchers, and other advocates and stakeholders who work toward improving population health for rural Americans in their day-to-day endeavors,” Ferdinand said. “We also hope that by highlighting the priorities contained in Rural Healthy People 2030, we have provided one way that organizations can systematically arrange their resources and efforts to meet the greatest needs.”

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