Rural Public Health and Health Care: A Scan of Field Practice and Trends

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This field scan is a contribution to Thrive Rural, specifically intended to provide an understanding of the state of relevant health fields in the United States, namely public health and health care. It is a complement to the parallel scan of rural development field practice and trends, released simultaneously. This scan aims to address the overarching question: What are the potential pathways of influence for public health and health care to foster more prosperous, equitable and sustainable communities across rural America?

Through an expedited systematic review, this scan draws from practice literature in the public health and health care fields on their current state and evolution, including literature that captures convenings and agenda-setting among field leaders. Key informant conversations were conducted with select field leaders in public health and health care to complement existing research and documentation. This scan begins with background on the fields of public health and health care, and an overview of prevailing theories and frameworks that guide practice in these fields. That leads to a synthesis of current field trends and change strategies across public health and health care, and the scan concludes with findings on drivers, or levers, for change that can influence trends and change strategies within and across fields.

Thrive Rural is an ambitious effort to create a shared framework and understanding about what it will take for communities and Native nations across the rural United States to be healthy places where everyone belongs, lives with dignity, and thrives.

Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group