How Does the Definition of "Rural" Impact Research?

Duration: approximately minutes

The United States Census Bureau (Census) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) each have their own definition of "rural." However, both Census and OMB definitions present measurement challenges, with the Census overcounting the number of people in rural areas while the OMB undercounts them. To overcome these measurement challenges, the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) incorporates Rural-Urban Commuting Area codes to create a more nuanced definition of "rural."

During this webinar, Dr. Janice Probst and Dr. George Pink shared recent research from the FORHP-funded Rural Health Research Centers to highlight the importance of rural definitions and how those definitions impact research. Our presenters provided advice for "What should I take into account when determining rural definitions for my research study?" and "As a non-researcher, what should I look for in rural definitions when reading a study or brief?"


George H. Pink, PhD
Dr. Pink is a Research Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, Deputy Director of the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program, and Senior Research Fellow at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, all at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Janice (Jan) Probst, MS, PhD
Dr. Probst is a former Director of the Rural & Minority Health Research Center (RMHRC) at the University of South Carolina. Across nearly 20 years of leading the RMHRC, Dr. Probst designed and collaborated in research projects using a variety of metrics for identifying rural persons and places.

Dr. Probst completed her undergraduate education at Duke University and her graduate training at Purdue University (MS) and the University of South Carolina (PhD). Recognition for her rural health work includes the "outstanding researcher" (2008) and "volunteer of the year" (2016) awards from the National Rural Health Association, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice Award (faculty) from the University of South Carolina (2013).