Rural Urban Variation in Travel Burdens for Care: Findings From the 2017 National Household Travel Survey (Executive Summary)


Access to health care is essential in maintaining overall health, managing conditions, and preventing disease. The travel distance and travel time to medical or dental care can create barriers to health services and impact health status and the equitable provision of health services to all Americans.

Using 2017 National Household Travel Survey (NHTS) data, this project examines differences in travel patterns to medical and dental care in the U.S. based on the rurality classification, socio-demographic, and geographic characteristics of the survey population. Findings indicate that the average distance traveled for medical and dental care has changed little since the last analysis of NHTS data in 2001. The findings did note that among rural residents, Blacks and Hispanics, older residents, those with low incomes, those who seek care during night hours, and those who live in the Midwest census region bear a disproportionate burden of travel for care.

Southwest Rural Health Research Center
Marvellous Akinlotan, Kristin Primm, Nima Khodakarami, Jane Bolin, Alva Ferdinand