Paving the Way: Addressing Transportation as a Social Determinant of Health for Rural Residents

Research center:
Project funded:
September 2016
Project completed:
November 2017

Rural areas face unique challenges related to transportation, including distance to healthcare and other services, the impact of adverse weather on travel conditions, and limited availability of public and private transportation services. Rural residents cannot receive healthcare services without transportation to access facilities and providers. Beyond direct access to care, transportation is essential for accessing basic necessities for health and wellness, such as food, recreation, employment, education, and social support. This project will use a mixed-methods design to examine ways in which transportation operates as a social determinant of health for vulnerable rural residents, and to identify exemplar transportation programs that are successfully improving health and well-being of those residents.


  • Addressing Commuting as a Public Health Issue: Strategies Should Differ by Rurality
    Policy Brief
    University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 07/2018
    This policy brief estimates the rate of solo and long (greater than 30 minutes) solo car commutes by rurality and urban adjacency and identifies differences in factors that relate to commuting behavior.
  • Rural Transportation: Challenges and Opportunities
    Policy Brief
    University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 11/2017
    This policy brief uses survey data from 113 key informants across all 50 states to describe challenges and opportunities related to rural transportation.
  • Rural-Urban Differences in Risk Factors for Motor Vehicle Fatalities
    Journal Article
    University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 09/2018
    This study uses 2017 County Health Rankings data to run stratified regression models to estimate county-level correlates of motor vehicle fatalities (MVFs) by rural and urban location. We found that rural counties have higher rates of MVFs than urban counties (22 vs. 14 per 100,000, p<0.001).