Poor self-rated physical health is strongly associated with morbidity and premature mortality (1,2). Studies that are now a decade old report worse self-rated health among rural than among urban residents (3,4). Whether the rural disadvantage persists in 2021 is uncertain and the contributing factors to contemporary rural-urban variations in self-rated health are not known. Rural America is diverse by population size and adjacency to metropolitan areas, and rural populations vary demographically and socioeconomically. This analysis used data from the National Well-being Survey (NWS), a national sample of approximately 4,000 U.S. working-aged adults conducted during February and March 2021 to examine differences in self-rated physical health among residents of large urban; medium/small urban; metro-adjacent rural; and remote rural counties. Residents of medium/small urban, metro-adjacent rural, and remote rural counties had significantly higher probabilities of reporting fair/poor self-rated physical health than their large urban county peers. There were no significant differences by sex or race/ethnicity in self-rated physical health. Individual-level socioeconomic resources (including higher educational attainment, higher household income, and higher probability of employment) contributed to the advantage among residents of large urban counties. Although there is no single solution to reducing rural-urban health disparities, these findings suggest that reducing socioeconomic disparities is essential.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
- Health Information Management