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Forum: The Health And Economic Concerns Of Rural Americans


Courtesy of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

What do rural Americans say are the biggest problems in their communities? A new poll finds that the top challenges are drug and opioid abuse and economic concerns.

Indeed, a majority of rural Americans put opioid and drug addiction on par with the local economy as serious problems in their community. The poll found rural Americans largely hold negative views of their local economy, but nearly one-third have seen economic progress in recent years.

You can read the full findings of the poll, conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, here.

What may help? A majority of rural Americans believe outside assistance will be needed to solve major community problems in the future, and many believe government will play an important role.

These and other issues related to life and health in rural America will be highlighted in an expert panel discussion Friday, Nov. 9, to be live-streamed here at 12 p.m. ET, as part of The Forum at the Harvard Chan School.

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Convened shortly before National Rural Health Day and after the nation's midterm elections, our panel will look at the economic and day-to-day social concerns of rural Americans.

We'll discuss possible solutions to economic decline and the opioid/drug crisis, and point to positive signs and optimism revealed by our poll.

Joe Neel, deputy senior supervising editor on NPR's Science Desk, will moderate the discussion with:

Katrina Badger, program officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,

Robert Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Kennedy School,

Ted Strickland, former governor of Ohio, and

David Terrell, executive director, Indiana Communities Institute and RUPRI Center for State Policy, Rural Policy Research Institute.

This webcast is part of an ongoing series, "Life and Health In Rural America." The series is based in part on a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit

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