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Southwest Rural Health Research Center at Texas A&M identify health challenges in rural United States

The Southwest Rural Health Research Center is part of the Texas A&M Health Science Center and has been in operation for 20 years.

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The Southwest Rural Health Research Center at Texas A&M University recently published its findings on the key health challenges Americans in rural areas face. With this information, they are looking to provide support services for those affected.

"We have seen throughout Texas and the United States that rural hospitals close down their maternity units, just because of low volumes and challenges from an economic standpoint and from a quality of care standpoint, due to a limited number of deliveries," Executive Director of the Southwest Rural Health Research Center, Kia Parsi said.

Researchers at the center surveyed more than 1,475 healthcare professionals, government officials, and researchers. Over 75% of respondents included mental health and mental disorders in their list of the three most critical health issues facing rural Americans, while addiction was included in more than 60% of lists.

"Rural communities also have unique challenges," Parsi said. "Some may be geographical, resources may be less available in both communities compared to urban and suburban communities, and the number of access points often are less in rural communities."

Dr. Parsi says health care in rural communities has always been challenged, but even more so in today's world with costs of goods and services constantly in flux. However, while it is a challenge to manage, there are also new opportunities for rural Americans thanks to technology that is helping bridge the gap in healthcare.

"Remote patient monitoring is one capability where a patient is at home but there are monitoring devices to assess especially for chronic diseases how a patient is doing," Parsi said. "Telemedicine and telehealth are other resources that can be utilized."

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