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January 2, 2002

Reproductive Health Care in the Rural United States

Author Affiliations

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JAMA. 2002;287(1):112. doi:10.1001/jama.287.1.112-JMS0102-6-1

In addition to rural health care barriers such as poverty and distance, rural women face limited access to reproductive health services.1 The resulting lack of care can challenge rural women's reproductive autonomy. Their reproductive choices may also be limited by the added impact of rural values, norms, and belief systems regarding sexual health and the patient-physician relationship. Rural women tend to have less education, fewer job opportunities, lower salaries, more children, and greater family caretaking responsibility than their urban counterparts.1 They are more likely both to marry and to have children at younger ages. The combination of poverty, low population density, and lack of child care and other services in many rural areas reinforces traditional roles for women. They receive less preventive care than women in urban areas and have higher rates of chronic disease.1