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File:Swedish countryside.jpg

Sign in a rural area in Dalarna, Sweden

File:Countryside Lowell, IN.JPG

A rural area west of U.S. Route 41 and Lowell, Indiana.

Rural environments are areas (referred to as "the countryside") are large and isolated areas of a country, often with low population density.


The term rurals is used as an expression of different rural areas as not being homogeneously defined. Many authors involved in mental health research in rural areas, stress the importance of steering clear of inflexible blanket definitions of rurality[1] (Philo, 2003), and to instead "select definitions of rurality that are appropriate to the study being conducted"[2].

Cloke's index categorises all areas of England and Wales into four criteria: extreme rural, intermediate rural, intermediate non-rural and extreme non-rural; as well as urban areas. Cloke used 16 different ways of drawing the conclusions for his model, all of which lead to the measure of an area's rurality.

Rural schools[]

The US National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) revised its definition of rural schools in 2006 after working with the Census Bureau to create a new locale classification system to capitalize on improved geocoding technology and the 2000 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) definitions of metro areas that rely less on population size and county boundaries than proximity of an address to an urbanized area. The new classification system has four major local categories— city, suburban, town, and rural —each of which is subdivided into three subcategories. Cities and suburbs are subdivided into the categories small, midsize, or large; towns and rural areas are subdivided by their proximity to an urbanized area into the categories fringe, distant, or remote. These twelve categories are based on several key concepts that Census uses to define an area's urbanicity: principal city, urbanized area, and urban cluster. Rural areas are designated by census as those areas that do not lie inside an urbanized area or urban cluster. NCES has classified all schools into one of these twelve categories based on schools' actual addresses and their corresponding coordinates of latitude and longitude. Not only does this mean that the location of any school can be identified precisely, but also that distance measures can be used to identify town and rural subtypes.”

Rural mental health[]

Rural health[]

Rural health definitions can be different for establishing underserved areas or health care accessibility in rural areas of the United States. According to the handbook, Definitions of Rural: A Handbook for Health Policy Makers and Researchers, “Residents of metropolitan counties are generally thought to have easy access to the relatively concentrated health services of the county’s central areas. However, some metropolitan counties are so large that they contain small towns and rural, sparsely populated areas that are isolated from these central clusters and their corresponding health services by physical barriers.” To address this type of rural area, “Harold Goldsmith, Dena Puskin, and Dianne Stiles (1992) described a methodology to identify small towns and rural areas within large metropolitan counties (LMCs) that were isolated from central areas by distance or other physical features.” This became the Goldsmith Modification definition of rural. “The Goldsmith Modification has been useful for expanding the eligibility for federal programs that assist rural populations—to include the isolated rural populations of large metropolitan counties.”

United Kingdom[]

In the UK, "rural" is defined[3] by the government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), using population data from the latest census, such as the United Kingdom Census 2001. These definitions have various grades, but the upper point is any local government area with less than 26% of its population living in a market town ("market town" being defined as any settlement which has permission to hold a street market).

Rural health[]

An NHS patient is defined as rural if they live more than Template:Convert/kmTemplate:Convert/test/Aon from either a doctor or a dispensing chemist. This is important for defining whether the patient is expected to collect their own medicines. While doctors' surgeries in towns will not have a dispensing chemist, instead expecting patients to use a high-street chemist to purchase their prescription medicines, in rural village surgeries, an NHS dispensary will be built into the same building (and indeed most rural patients will have never seen a paper prescription, since the prescriptions are usually sent via computer network direct to a label printer in the dispensary).


In Australia rural health has been influenced issues around getting medical staff to stay in remote outback areas.

See also[]


  1. Philo C., Parr H., and Burns N., (2003) Rural madness: a geographical reading and critique of the rural mental health literature, Journal of Rural Studies, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp. 259-281. *[1]
  2. * Cloke, P., (1977) An index of rurality for England and Wales. Regional Studies B 11, pp. 31–46.