LISTENING TO RURAL MISSOURI:
Rural Missouri (ruMO) is dying. Citizens of the region consistently experience worse health outcomes in most areas of life. The rural population accounts for 1.5 million people who are overrepresented in every leading cause of death. Life expectancy is shortening, and there are not enough providers to meet healthcare needs. Overdose, suicide, and mental health outcomes are growing exponentially, resulting in devastating outcomes. The rural health crisis is overwhelming, complex, and in immediate need of intervention.
To understand the perceived needs of ruMO, the Missouri Rural Health Association (MRHA) hosted a series of listening sessions. The organization collected responses from stakeholders in each region (see Findings by Region) to identify recurring themes across the state (see Cross-State Findings). Utilizing qualitative research methods, these findings were categorized within the social determinants of health to prioritize areas of most immediate need. Considering the strengths of the rural community, this paper seeks to identify the best ways to move forward in addressing those needs.
The sheer abundance of barriers in ruMO is overwhelming, but positioning MRHA as a centralized hub may facilitate larger inter-sectoral collaborations. The goal of this needs assessment is to offer suggestions for immediate collective action for the betterment of the rural health community. MRHA’s mission to link, engage, and sustain provides the foundation to utilize existing resources to meet the critical needs of rural Missouri.
If existing organizations and advocates in ruMO can become engaged in collaboration and linked with external resources, then sustainable solutions can be developed.
This program is supported by the University of Missouri School of Medicine, Missouri Rural Health Association, and the Health Resources and Services administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $19,461,609 with 10 percent financed with nongovernmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official view of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government