The Service Use Index: A Tool for Examining Rural/Urban Differences

Rosemary K. Chapin, Beth Anne Baca, Skye N. Leedahl, Roxanne Rachlin, Xanthippe Wedel, Mary K. Zimmerman


Development of tools for identifying and tracking differences in older adult service utilization by race, ethnicity, income, and geographic area is vital in the face of current demographic and economic changes in rural areas, particularly in areas experiencing rapid demographic changes. In this conceptual article, we explain how to calculate a service use index that compares service utilization of a specific group of older adults to that of the entire older adult population. We then illustrate its usefulness with a case example using geographic information systems (GIS). This unique approach can be utilized to understand differences across fields of practice, enhance planning to address differences, and monitor changes over time.



applied research, geographic information systems, older adults, policy/practice tools, rural service utilization

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