To urban city dwellers, rural life can seem idyllic—a slower pace, easy-to-access outdoor recreation, and close ties to family, friends, and the community. What may not be as obvious is the extent to which persistent health disparities plague rural populations. For example, recurring evidence suggests that rural Americans face greater mortality risks from multiple diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and drug-related injuries. In addition, rural Americans are more likely than urban Americans to have low incomes, to have no more than a high school education, to be unemployed, and to be uninsured. Such data may compel stakeholders to seek to “save rural” by simply extending services and opportunities that exist and work well in urban environments. However, we argue that rural settings are fundamentally different in ways that require more creative thinking in order to optimize health outcomes. In this commentary, we summarize current trends in cancer prevention and control in rural areas and argue that 4 key considerations are needed when working in rural settings to address cancer disparities.
Citation: Wheeler S. B., & Davis M. M. (2017). “Taking the bull by the horns”: Four principles to align public health, primary care, and community efforts to improve rural cancer control. The Journal of Rural Health, 33, 345-349. doi: 10.1111/jrh.12263
Acknowledgements: We are grateful for the support of our community partners in this work. Eliana Sullivan provided helpful edits on early versions of this commentary.