Case Synopsis

Rural populations face notably higher rates of chronic diseases than urban areas, specifically, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, cancer, and diabetes. This case focuses on Chatham-Kent, a small, rural town in Southwestern Ontario, to illustrate this point. More specifically, the case focuses on an epidemiological approach to provide evidence of the health disparities due to an individual’s place of residence. Based on the comparison of agestandardized rates, does the rural community of Chatham-Kent experience greater health disparities?

This case provides the reader with practice in calculating and interpreting crude and agestandardized rates and the ability to disseminate findings about the health status of a given population.

Case Objectives

  1. Understand basic epidemiological terminology, such as crude rates, age-adjusted rates, and epidemiological approach.
  2. Apply the mechanisms behind the derivation of crude and age-adjusted rates in analysis of health data.
  3. Understand how the epidemiological approach can identify health disparities amongst different populations.
  4. Compare the health statuses of different populations accurately with appropriate measures.
  5. Effectively communicate the results of a health data analysis to intended audience(s).

Case Study Questions

Most discussion should focus around the Case Analysis questions, although, if discussion dies off, or to initiate conversation, the following could be presented:

  1. Are there any personal experiences that could help illustrate the points made by the case (e.g. within previous/current employment, previous/current courses, etc.)?
  2. How would the presentation of mortality rates differ when presenting to fellow public health professionals (either with or without an epidemiologic background) or to the general public?
  3. Based on the results of the case, what interventions would you suggest, if any?


epidemiological approach, age standardized rates, crude rates, mortality, rural health, chronic disease, chronic disease-related risk factors

Additional Author Information

Kate Turner, BSc, MPH

Stanley Ing, MPH, CPHI(c), Epidemiologist

Laura Zettler, MSc, Epidemiologist/Program Manager

Gerald McKinley, PhD, Assistant Professor



Recommended Citation

Turner, T., Ing, S., Zettler, L., McKinley, G. (2018). Rural Residence and Associated Health Disparities: The Case of Chatham-Kent. in: McKinley, G. & Sibbald, S.L. [eds] Western Public Health Casebook 2018. London, ON: Public Health Casebook Publishing.