Research Alert: June 11, 2024

Risk Factors for Poor Health Among U.S. Older Adults in Rural and Urban Areas: Injury, Food Insecurity, and Lack of Social and Emotional Support

Research on rural-urban health disparities among older adults often focuses on clinical outcomes, providing a limited understanding of overall differences in older adult social, emotional, and physical well-being, and safety by rurality. This brief examines three risk factors for poor health outcomes: injury, food insecurity, and lack of social and emotional support among older adults by rural-urban residence.

Key Findings:

  • Nearly 30% of rural (29.6%) and urban (28.5%) older adults reported experiencing at least one of the selected risk factors (injury, food insecurity, or lack of social and emotional support).
  • Of the three risk factors, lack of social and emotional support was the most common, reported by over 18% of older adults from both rural (18.5%) and urban (19.9%) areas.
  • Injury was the second-most reported risk factor and was more commonly reported by rural (10.8%) than urban (9.2%) older adults.
  • Food insecurity was experienced by 4.9% of rural and 4.4% of urban older adults.
Contact Information:

Ingrid Jacobson, MPH
University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center

Additional Resources of Interest: