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Rural veterans' health is poorer

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WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt., Oct 08, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- The health of rural veterans in the United States is poorer than their urban counterparts, a large study has found.

Researchers at the White River Junction VA Medical Center and Dartmouth Medical School surveyed more than 750,000 veterans who had received Veterans Administration healthcare between 1996 and 1999 -- a period when the VA was beginning to establish community-based outpatient clinics to provide primary care closer to home for rural vets.

They found, on a questionnaire that measures eight areas of physical and mental health, the average score was 33 for the physical health of rural veterans, compared with 37 for urban vets. For mental health, rural vets scored an average of 44.5, compared to 45.6 for their urban counterparts.

"We need to think about veterans who live in rural settings as a special population," researchers said, "and we need to carefully consider their needs when designing healthcare delivery systems."

One improvement is the number of outpatient clinics for veterans nationwide has grown to 700, although the researchers have concluded at least 150 more clinics are needed.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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