Conducting Rural Health Research, Needs Assessment and Program Evaluation

Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub)

Rural communities and health care facilities have limited resources to address many health-related needs. Research and needs assessments can help determine where and how resources may best be targeted, and program evaluations can indicate whether a particular intervention or approach works well in a rural context.

Rural stakeholders who understand the purposes of conducting research, needs assessments, and program evaluations, and who have the tools to undertake such activities, will be better positioned to focus their efforts where they will have the best result.

Likewise, policymakers and funders who understand how to help rural communities by supporting rural health research, assessments and evaluations can help build our nation's understanding of rural health needs and effective interventions to address those needs.

This guide:

  • Identifies the similarities and differences among rural health research, assessment and evaluation
  • Discusses common methods, such as surveys and focus groups
  • Provides contacts within the field of rural health research
  • Addresses the importance of community-based participatory research to rural communities
  • Looks at the community health needs assessment (CHNA) requirements for non-profit hospitals and public health 
  • Examines the importance of building the evidence-base so interventions conducted in rural areas have the maximum possible impact