Rural Communities Face Challenges in Providing Cancer Care

Jennifer Moss, PhD, discusses challenges that impact community cancer care in rural communities.

Jennifer Moss, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and Department of Public Health Sciences at Penn State Cancer Institute, discusses challenges that impact community cancer care in rural communities.

According to Moss, many rural communities have a less structured healthcare system compared with urban communities, which correlates with a lower quality of life in patients who live in rural communities.

Key factors that impact patients’ quality of life in rural communities are long waits for appointments and long commutes to receive care, says Moss.


Something we see across the board in rural communities is that there aren't enough providers around to meet the needs of older adults, particularly older adults with cancer or older cancer survivors. The formal healthcare infrastructure in rural communities tends to be underdeveloped. In certain locations, we do see more social cohesion and social support that can help to make sure older adults with cancer integrated and part of the community. That’s crucial for quality-of-life and for survivorship.

In rural communities, people have to wait longer for appointments that can be scheduled further out, and they have to drive further to see a provider. Sometimes that carries with it a lot of questions. Can the patient drive themselves? Do they need someone to come with them? Will they need a procedure at the appointment? Do they need someone to drive them home, and are they going to need to take off work? Not having easy access to providers is difficult clinically as well as socially for older adults in rural communities.

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