The purpose of this chapter is to review the literature on quality of care in rural areas. Keywords related to rural quality of care were used to search CINAHL and MEDLINE databases for articles published between 2005 and 2007 (limited to studies occurring in the United States). The review consisted of a total of 46 articles. Limitations include inconsistent definitions of rural, the use of only articles available to the reviewers, an unclear understanding of the context of many of the studies, and lack of a clear operational definition of quality. The studies were grouped and discussed according to quality of workforce, practice, treatment, interventions, and technology in rural areas. Each study’s contribution to the understanding of quality health care in rural areas and to determining what was effective in improving staff, patient, or organizational outcomes in rural areas was considered. This chapter also offers a discussion of ethical issues and data quality in rural research. Issues for future research include a focus on patient safety, mental health issues, and the use of technology to improve quality of care in rural areas. Future research should also focus on demonstration studies of model applications. The nursing profession has a unique opportunity to conduct research that will contribute to the development of knowledge that will ultimately improve the quality of health and health care for individuals in rural communities.
Annual Review of Nursing Research – Springer Publishing
Published: Jan 1, 2008