During 2016-2017, the Montana Office of Rural Health and Montana Rural Health Association hit the road to hear what rural Montanans identify as their top health concerns. Here is what we heard: 



Access to Healthcare Services

Workforce in our smaller communities can be a challenge. From EMS personnel to primary care and specialty services, the workforce in our rural communities is fragile. Suggestions to improve access included: telehealth, expanded hours or weekend clinics, and visiting specialties.

Health & Wellness

Community participants indicated that they would like more opportunities to be physically active. This could include walking trails, local pools, sidewalks and better lighting, and indoor activities for inclement weather. Additionally, more health education and prevention were important.
mental health

Mental & Behavioral Health

The lack of mental health services in our rural communities was acutely felt, from dealing with depression and anxiety to the heartbreak of suicide. Communities identified the need for more providers to serve all age groups, from youth to seniors.

Alcohol & Substance Abuse

Hand in hand with mental and behavioral health, communities recognized a need for alcohol and substance abuse services. From opioids to alcohol and tobacco, concerns of a culture of use and abuse was prominent.
medical professional

Support for Local Services

Participants praised their local facilities and healthcare providers. They recognized that importance of health services in their communities and the economic they have. Participants also recognized the need to support local services to ensure stability.

Who participated?

Over 450 people from 32 different communities participated in 25 focus groups and key information interviews. All participants answered the same line of questions and all were conducted by staff from the Montana Office of Rural Health and Montana Rural Health Association.