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Rural Health

“…the health of neither individuals nor populations occurs in a vacuum.  Instead, it is shaped by a wide range of factors…”

                        Institute of Medicine: the Future of Public’s Health in the 21st Century

The Geisinger Center for Health Research (GCHR) examines the role of social and community characteristics as determinants of health. Socioeconomic factors, social support systems, work conditions, social capital, and cultural traditions within communities are known to influence health and wellness.  GCHR researchers are engaged in policy, health services, and health intervention research that integrates the characteristics of community into research models.  Electronic health records and GIS databases are combined in a multilevel approach to understanding the connection between where people live and work and their health, health attitudes and behaviors.

Approximately 40% of Geisinger’s patient population resides in rural areas.  Rural residents tend to be older and have a lower SES.  Understanding mediators of health and disease among rural residence is a particular focus of interest.  The GCHR Rural Health Policy Institute specifically conducts rural health policy research, offering periodic advice to Pennsylvania state officials and legislatures. The Institute has led the way in developing a School Health Network to partner with local school systems to coordinate the health and wellness of school-aged children.