Rural children are more likely to experience worse health outcomes than non-rural children, according to a new study. In fact, children living in rural areas are five times more likely to live in areas that lack adequate local medical services.
In the study: “Characteristics of Rural Children Admitted to Pediatric Hospitals,” published in Pediatrics, researchers discovered that rural children who are hospitalized at pediatric hospitals are more frequently hospitalized at a higher cost than non-rural children, and are more likely to be readmitted to the hospital.
Why is this happening? Well, this could be due, in part, to the challenges faced by hospitals and local health care providers to coordinate medical services after the child’s discharge. Research showed that the majority of hospitalized rural children resided in high-poverty neighborhoods. Further investigation will be needed to determine how to best meet the health care needs of rural children, who show high rates of medical complexity and often travel long distances for medical care.