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NORC leverages the strengths and assets of rural communities to improve the health and well-being of their residents.

Rural areas are the source of much of our food, drinking water, energy production, and outdoor recreation. What’s more, one in five Americans—including a disproportionate number of veterans and active-duty service members—lives in a rural community. And those communities are unceasingly diverse—one in four Americans is a person of color. All of this makes the study of the health needs and challenges of rural Americans essential to everyone.

NORC has deep and longstanding expertise in rural health, having examined issues contributing to the health of rural Americans since publishing its first rural study in 1952. Our work focuses on identifying solutions that leverage the many strengths and assets of rural communities to improve the health and well-being of their residents while advancing health equity.

Our Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis has a team of talented and dedicated researchers who partner with rural residents, health providers, public health departments, and other entities committed to improving the health of rural residents. The center focuses on a wide array of issues affecting rural communities, including:

  • Access to care
  • Aging
  • Economic development
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Health care quality
  • Medicare payment policies
  • Payment and delivery models
  • Public health
  • Rural health workforce
  • Telehealth
  • Tribal health
  • Veterans’ health

Rural Health Experts

Highlighted Projects

Alaska Healthcare Transformation Project

Producing a roadmap to reduce health care costs and improve health outcomes


Alaska Healthcare Transformation Project

Development of a Rural Recovery Ecosystem Index

The nation’s first-ever county-level index of a community’s substance use recovery ecosystem


HRSA Federal Office of Rural Health Policy

Appalachian Overdose Mapping Tool

An online tool enables sophisticated analysis of opioid crisis in Appalachia


Appalachian Regional Commission

Value-Based Payment in South Dakota Medicaid

Examining options to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of care


South Dakota Medicaid

Improving Rural Health Care Delivery in Maryland’s Mid-Shore Region

Developing innovative health care delivery models with the University of Maryland


Maryland Health Care Commission

Evaluation of the YMCA ForeverWell Expansion Project

NORC evaluated a holistic health and wellness program for older adults living in rural communities


YMCA of the USA

Community Health Toolkits for Rural America

Evidence-based approaches for building effective rural community health programs


Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, Health Resources and Services Administration

Evaluation of the Pennsylvania Rural Health Model

Assessing efforts to improve the financial health of rural hospitals and maintain access to care


Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Older Adults and Caregivers in Public Health Emergencies

A study of the needs of older adults and caregivers during COVID-19 and resources to help them


CDC Foundation

Obesity Prevalence & Comorbidity Map

An interactive mapping tool offering insights into prevalence of obesity and related chronic diseases


Novo Nordisk

COVID-19 Vaccination Success Stories in Rural Communities

A qualitative study exploring lessons learned from COVID-19 vaccination efforts in rural communities


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Adult Obesity in Rural America

An analysis of obesity prevalence, sociodemographic factors, and access to care in rural and urban counties


Novo Nordisk

Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy & Health Disparities Among Rural Farmworkers

Using Migrant and Seasonal Head Start infrastructure to distribute COVID-19 vaccines and document health disparities


W. K. Kellogg Foundation