Performance Improvement 2006. Rural Research Needs and Data Sources for Selected Human Services Topics


The main goal of this study was to develop an inventory of databases that researchers could use to study selected human services-related conditions and the accessibility and utilization of human services in rural areas. Three human services issues were focal topics for the project - work supports for low-income families, substance abuse, and child welfare. The study found that: (1) There is no single, standardized definition that designates populations and places as rural or urban; (2) In contrast to urban areas, less is known about human and social services conditions in rural areas, the social services rural residents need and use, and the effectiveness of those services; (3) One of the major difficulties in conducting rural research is finding suitable data; (4) Several steps could be taken by researchers or their sponsors to strengthen rural data and research. The final report provides a descriptive overview of the social and economic conditions in rural America, including persistent and emerging trends, as well as descriptions (e.g., content, rural identifiers, access restrictions) of 20 federal and nonfederal and 60 state administrative data sources that could be used by rural researchers and policymakers to study one or more of the selected focal conditions.

PIC ID: 8188; Agency Sponsor: ASPE-OHSP, Office of Human Services Policy; Federal Contact: Halpern, Peggy & McCormick, Ann; Performer: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., Princeton, NJ

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