Limitations of secondary data for strategic marketing in rural areas

Tyrone F. Borders, James E. Rohrer, Thomas E. Vaughn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Market research is an important element of the strategic marketing process. By understanding the healthcare needs of a market area, hospital and health system managers can set priorities for new services and allocate resources appropriately. The process of market research often begins with an evaluation of health status and socioeconomic indicators collected from secondary sources. Unfortunately, indicators that have been recommended in the literature may not be feasible for use in rural markets because of their lack of statistical precision or inability to differentiate healthcare service needs. The study evaluated the statistical precision and variability of 79 secondary health status and socioeconomic measures reported at the county level in Iowa, USA, a largely rural state. Our findings suggest that many readily available health status and socioeconomic indicators do not discriminate need among rural health care markets. Only six health status and two socioeconomic indicators met our statistical precision and variability criteria. These not findings have important implications for managers planning health services in rural localities. Managers of rural health systems may need to employ alternative market research methods, such as claims-based utilization rates or community health surveys.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-222
Number of pages7
JournalHealth Services Management Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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