Background: Many of the world’s population live in rural areas. However, access and dissemination of the advances taking place in the field of palliative care to patients living in rural areas have been limited. Methods: We searched 2 large databases of the medical literature and found 248 relevant articles; we also identified another 59 articles through networking and a hand search of reference lists. Of those 307 articles, 39 met the inclusion criteria and were grouped into the following subcategories: intervention (n = 4), needs assessment (n = 2), program planning (n = 3), program evaluation (n = 4), education (n = 7), financial (n = 8), and comprehensive/systematic literature reviews (n = 11). Results: We synthesized the current state of rural palliative care research and practice to identify important gaps for future research. Studies were conducted in the United States, Australia, Canada, Africa, Sweden, and India. Two randomized control trials were identified, both of which used telehealth approaches and had positive survival outcomes. One study demonstrated positive patient quality of life and depression outcomes. Conclusions: Research to guide rural palliative care practice is sparse. Approaches to telehealth, community– academic partnerships, and training rural health care professionals show promise, but more research is needed to determine best practices for providing palliative care to patients living in rural settings.
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