Addressing Rural Social Isolation as a Health and Mortality Risk Factor

Research center:
Project funded:
September 2017
Project completed:
August 2018

Social isolation, defined as a lack of contact with friends, family members, neighbors, and society at large, is directly related to increased morbidity and mortality, both of which are elevated in rural areas, compared with urban areas. Addressing social isolation should be viewed as a matter of primary prevention and as imperative to population health. The purpose of this project was to describe rural/urban differences in the prevalence of social isolation, as well as to identify challenges and strategies related to addressing rural social isolation in order to inform policy-making.


  • Gender Differences in Social Isolation and Social Support Among Rural Residents
    Policy Brief
    University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 08/2018
    This policy brief uses identifies gender differences in social isolation and social support among older rural residents and provides ways to reduce social isolation in rural communities.
  • Key Informant Perspectives on Rural Social Isolation and Loneliness
    Policy Brief
    University of Minnesota Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 10/2018
    This policy brief uses data from interviews with 22 key informants in 12 states, all of whom were experts on the issue of social isolation and/or rural health, to describe key challenges and opportunities related to rural social isolation.