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J Rural Health. 2007 Fall;23 Suppl:79-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-0361.2007.00128.x.

Research on rural residence and access to drug abuse services: where are we and where do we go?

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Department of Health Policy and Management, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock 72205, USA.



Illicit drug use is common in rural areas, but very little research has investigated rural populations' access to drug abuse services.


To describe the current state of the scientific literature on access to drug abuse services in rural areas and suggest directions for future research.


We performed a literature review of published articles on rural drug abuse services and summarized the findings according to potential, realized, accommodating, and acceptable access. Relevant articles on rural access to medical, alcohol, and mental health care were selected to supplement the scarce literature specific to drug abuse.


A limited body of work indicates that rural populations have lower availability and utilize needed drug abuse services less frequently than their urban counterparts. Even less is known about the accommodation and acceptability of drug abuse programs serving rural populations.


Research that investigates the existence and determinants of problems with access to drug abuse services is greatly needed to enable policy makers, drug treatment managers, and practitioners to better meet the needs of their rural clientele. As this field of inquiry advances, methodologies for constructing drug abuse service areas and measuring consumers' evaluations must be developed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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