Impact of Federal Primary Health Care Policy in Rural Areas: Empirical Evidence from the Literature

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5 Scopus citations


This review examines the equity, efficiency and effectiveness of federal rural primary care policy as documented by the existing literature. The focus is on the Community Health Center and National Health Service Corps programs which have constituted the major components of the policy. The literature relating to the policy is limited in the number of studies available and in the quality of the research. The available evidence indicates that the policy is associated with an improvement in the distribution of health resources between rural and urban areas, and among rural areas. There is also partial evidence that the policy has been cost‐efficient. For federally subsidized practices, the cost of delivering a similar quality of health care is shown to be up to 50 percent less in rural than in urban areas. Rural private practitioners, though, may be more cost‐efficient than federally subsidized rural practitioners, at least under certain conditions which have yet to be fully delineated. Program effectiveness is the least well documented, but the literature does suggest that the policy has had a positive effect on the health status of rural populations. Substantially more research on the efficiency, and particularly the effectiveness, of federal rural primary care policy is required for the development of a rational basis for the policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-28
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Rural Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 1988
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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