Journal of Rural Health 16: 324-336, 2000.
There is a large rural-urban disparity in the proportion of hospitals that are accredited by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO). Several factors can influence whether a hospital participates in the accreditation process. A few of those factors include the hospital’s size, case mix and ownership. However, even after controlling for many of these factors, hospitals in the most rural locations are less likely to be accredited by the JCAHO than urban hospitals. A survey was conducted to explore why rural hospitals are not participating in the accreditation process. Survey results show that the largest factor contributing to rural hospital deterrence to seeking accreditation is cost. Without accreditation by the JCAHO and compliance with their movement into performance measurement, quality monitoring of rural hospitals will fall further behind that of urban hospitals. Policy initiatives that make accreditation more financially feasible should be considered.