Rural Health and Well-Being in America

Understanding our rural communities’ strengths, challenges and opportunities for achieving health and well-being for all.

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A sunflower blooms in front of a greenhouse, barn and chicken yard.

Across America, many rural and tribal communities are finding inspiring solutions to improve health and well-being for all.


In rural and tribal communities, people are resilient and work hard to overcome obstacles to health with the resources they have. But it shouldn't have to be so difficult.

According to the County Health Rankings, rural counties have higher premature death rates and rank lowest nationally in overall health outcomes. The factors driving rural health disparities vary widely, from shifting demographics, to changing economies and disinvestment, to the opioid epidemic and insufficient access to needed care.

Amid these complex issues, with a range of partners, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is supporting the efforts of rural communities across the nation to develop local and regional solutions to advance health equity. These efforts draw on community strengths: neighbors who look out for each other; teachers who know their students; and leaders of all ages and walks of life who are determined to build a stronger and more resilient future for all.

This collection shares key resources, research and emerging insights into the many factors that shape rural health in America.

Life in Rural America Symposium

In May 2019, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NPR, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health hosted a day of engaging and thought-provoking discussions on rural health challenges.  

Watch the livestream recording


Editor's Pick

Health and Well-Being in Rural America

A sampling of resources and tools designed for rural communities and information about factors that shape rural health.

Explore resources


FeatureD InitIatives and Research

Moving Knowledge, Not People

Project ECHO uses ongoing telementoring to equip primary care practitioners in rural areas with the knowledge they need to provide high-quality specialty care.

Building an Inclusive Nation

The Rural Assembly is launching a national response to address long-standing issues of inequity and historical trauma in rural communities.

Cultivating Wellness in Community

Well Connected Communities is equipping volunteer leaders to help their neighbors be healthier, and cultivate wellness, at every stage of life.                                                     

Supporting Rural Hospitals

The Center for Optimizing Rural Health is partnering with communities and facilities to identify opportunities to improve health outcomes, reduce costs, and increase access to care.

Growing Small Town Economies

HOPE’s Small Towns Partnership is working with communities in Mississippi to expand economic opportunity and increase the towns’ competitive advantage.

Life in Rural America

RWJF, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public health and NPR conduct survey research on views and experiences in rural America.  


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