In the last 10 to 15 years, an increasing number of studies have started to investigate inequalities in health and health behaviors between rural and urban regions. However, the answers to the “rural or urban” question have been mixed. Riva and colleagues pointed out that the inconsistencies in the comparison results may be attributed to a wide range of health measures used for comparisons and the level of geographical detail used to define rural areas. Health measures vary from incidence and prevalence of chronic diseases, injury, and suicide and from health behaviors to life expectancy, premature mortality, and health services utilization. The definitions of “rural” (and “urban”) used and size of areas attached to the definitions in empirical studies also vary greatly.

In more recent years, ...

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