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Central Distributor SID: Description of Data Elements
This section describes how HCUP data elements are coded, restrictions on their use, their uniform values, and State-specific coding practices.
 
PL_RUCA - Patient location: Rural-Urban Commuting Area (RUCA) Codes
 
Documentation Sections:
General Notes
Uniform Values
State Specific Notes
General Notes
 

Rural Urban Commuting Areas (RUCA) are assigned to ZIP Codes using population and commuting information from the Census. They form a classification scheme that distinguishes urban ZIP Codes by population size and characterizes rural ZIP Codes by their population and the strength of their association with larger urban areas. Rural ZIP Codes are differentiated by three factors; the size of their largest urban community, the proportion of that population regularly commuting to larger urban areas, and the size of the urban destinations. RUCA are defined for 1993 ZIP Codes using population and commuting information from the 1990 census.

The 30 categories defined by the full RUCA scheme must generally be aggregated in some manner to avoid excessively small cell sizes. HCUP provides two alternative data elements that have collapsed the RUCAs -- PL_RUCA10 and PL_RUCA4.

The use of ZIP Codes to define RUCA provides greater locational precision than other (county-based) urban-rural schemes available for the HCUP data, However, county-based measures will better maintain their accuracy over time because of the greater frequency with which ZIP Codes are added and their boundaries change. RUCA precision degrades most quickly in regions of high population growth where many new ZIP Codes may be created, because RUCA categories are not defined for new ZIP Codes.

RUCA were developed by collaboration between the U.S. Health Resources and Service Administration's Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, the Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, and the Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, & Idaho (WWAMI) Rural Health Research Center. Additional information about this classification scheme is available on the Internet at http://depts.washington.edu/uwruca/ruca1/rucas.html. For many analyses, a smaller number of categories than those provided by the full RUCA may be more appropriate. Suggested alternatives for collapsing the RUCA are provided at http://depts.washington.edu/uwruca/ruca1/use_healthcare.html.

 
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Uniform Values
 
VariableDescriptionValueValue Description
PL_RUCAPatient location: Rural-Urban Commuting Area (RUCA) Codes1.0Metropolitan-area core: primary flow within an Urbanized Area (UA)
1.1Metropolitan-area core: primary flow within an UA, secondary flow 30-50% to larger UA
2.0Metropolitan-area high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a UA
2.1Metropolitan-area high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a UA, secondary flow 30-50% to larger UA
2.2Metropolitan-area high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a UA, combined flows to two or more UAs 30% or more and greater than primary flow
3.0Metropolitan-area low commuting: primary flow 5-30% to a UA
4.0Large town core: primary flow within a place of 10,000 to 49,999
4.1Large town core: primary flow within a place of 10,000 to 49,999; secondary flow 30% to 50% to a UA
5.0Large town high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a place of 10,000 to 49,999, primary flow to a 4.0 large town
5.1Large town high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a place of 10,000 to 49,999, primary flow to a 4.1 large town
6.0Large town low commuting: primary flow 5% to 30% to a place of 10,000 to 49,999
7.0Small town core: primary flow within a place of 2,500 to 9,999
7.1Small town core: primary flow within a place of 2,500 to 9,999, secondary flow 30% to 50% to a UA
7.2Small town core: primary flow within a place of 2,500 to 9,999, secondary flow 30% to 50% to a large town
7.3Small town core: primary flow within a place of 2,500 to 9,999, secondary flow 5% to 30% to a UA
7.4Small town core: primary flow within a place of 2,500 to 9,999, secondary flow 5% to 30% to a large town
8.0Small town high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a place of 2,500 to 9,999, primary flow to a 7.0 small town
8.1Small town high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a place of 2,500 to 9,999, primary flow to a 7.1 small town
8.2Small town high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a place of 2,500 to 9,999, primary flow to a 7.2 small town
8.3Small town high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a place of 2,500 to 9,999, primary flow to a 7.3 small town
8.4Small town high commuting: primary flow 30% or more to a place of 2,500 to 9,999, primary flow to a 7.4 small town
9.0Small town low commuting: primary flow 5% to 30% to a place of 2,500 to 9,999
9.1Small town low commuting: primary flow 5% to 30% to a place of 2,500 to 9,999, secondary flow 5% to 30% to a UA
9.2Small town low commuting: primary flow 5% to 30% to a place of 2,500 to 9,999, secondary flow 5% to 30% to a large town
10.0Rural areas: primary flow to a tract without a place of 2,500 or more
10.1Rural areas: primary flow to a tract without a place of 2,500 or more, secondary flow 30% to 50% to a UA
10.2Rural areas: primary flow to a tract without a place of 2,500 or more, secondary flow 30% to 50% to a large town
10.3Rural areas: primary flow to a tract without a place of 2,500 or more, secondary flow 30% to 50% to a small town
10.4Rural areas: primary flow to a tract without a place of 2,500 or more, secondary flow 5% to 30% to a UA
10.5Rural areas: primary flow to a tract without a place of 2,500 or more, secondary flow 5% to 30% to a large town
.Missing
 
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State Specific Notes

None

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Internet Citation: HCUP Central Distributor SID Description of Data Elements - All States. Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP). August 2008. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/db/vars/siddistnote.jsp?var=pl_ruca.
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Last modified 8/12/08