Rural Health Research

Improving healthcare and saving lives through rural health research.

Rural Doctors Foundation has a vision to provide meaningful and tangible improvements to the health of rural and remote communities. Apart from offering grassroots health funding, we’re also developing bodies of rural health research to understand and advocate for an incredibly diverse rural and remote population.

Understanding the health disadvantages

Australian Government data shows that rural and remote Australians have poorer health outcomes than those living in major cities. The mortality rate for rural and remote people is 1.8 times higher than in the city. And there are higher rates of hospitalisations and injury. As well, 3 in 5 rural people don’t see a specialist when they should, because there isn’t one close by. Due to limited services, rural Australians may have to travel long distances or face long waiting times for medical care. These factors can have a significant effect on an individual’s health outcomes.

However, in a State as big as ours, the lands of remote and rural Queensland and its people are diverse. From the waters of the Cape to arid Western Queensland. It’s a landscape as varied as the people who call it their home. There is no single answer to rural and remote healthcare. And so, we must seek to understand all our regions. Our mining towns, and farming communities. Aboriginal communities and the remotest places in the State all deserve our understanding. And a unique response to fulfil health needs. 

Face to face research

Rural Doctors Foundation has a prudent rural health research model, surveying rural and remote people whilst also delivering life-saving health checks. The face-to-face nature of the model provides good insight into major health issues facing rural and remote Australians

We are exploring access to health care and what the health care priorities are for those living in rural and remote communities.  Together, the data from the Health Check Clinics and Public Health Surveys will provide a better understanding of health services needed in rural and remote Queensland. 

Public Health Survey at BEEF Week

Rural and remote Australians have poorer health outcomes than those living in major cities. Due to limited services, rural Australians may have to travel long distances or face long waiting times for medical care. These factors can have a significant effect on an individual’s health outcomes.

However, in a State as big as ours, the lands of remote and rural Queensland and its people are diverse. From the waters of the Cape to the arid landscape of Western Queensland. It’s a landscape as varied as the people who call it their home. There is no single answer to rural and remote healthcare. And so, we must seek to understand all our regions.

Face to face research

Rural Doctors Foundation has a prudent rural health research model, surveying rural and remote people whilst also delivering life-saving health checks. The face-to-face nature of the model provides good insight into major health issues facing rural and remote Australians

We are exploring access to health care and what the health care priorities are for those living in rural and remote communities.  Together, the data from the Health Check Clinics and Public Health Surveys will provide a better understanding of health services needed in rural and remote Queensland. 

Public Health Survey at BEEF Week

2018 results

92 people were given health checks at BEEF 2018.

Median age

55-64

years old.

(Much higher than Australia’s median age of 37).

Sex

Male
67.4%
Female
32.6%

Risk of developing Type 2 diabetes

Low risk
13.6%
Moderate risk
37.5%
High risk
48.8%

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Overweight or obese
68.5%
Of those were clinically obese
37%

Chronic health risk

Low chronic disease risk
29.6%
Moderate disease risk
42.9%
High chronic disease risk
18.7%
Very high chronic disease risk
8.8%

Risk of developing cardiovascular disease next 5 years

Low risk (below 5%)
20.6%
Low risk (5-9%)
34.8%
Moderate risk (10-15%)
25%
High risk (16-19%)
9.8%
High risk (20-24%)
3.3%
High risk (25-30%)
4.3%
High risk (above 30%)
2.2%

The first round of rural health research was conducted in 2018. A Public Health Survey along with a walk-in health clinic was set up for patrons of BEEF Australia patrons. This cattle exhibition in Rockhampton attracts thousands of rural and remote Queenslanders every year. The survey focused on finding out more about access to urgent and non-urgent medical care, perceived health status and major healthcare issues. Results of the survey were published in the research paper, Health Outcomes and Issues Facing Rural and Remote Communities

Research from the Public Health Survey has informed future activities of Rural Doctors Foundation and the Rural Doctors Association Queensland. It has provided a basis for an ongoing rural health research program to better understand and serve those living in rural and remote communities. As well as informing our grants programs. Ensuring that funding is provided to initiatives and regions that will gain the most benefit from the investment.

A subsequent survey at BEEF Australia 2021 investigated specific considerations of Primary Care, the effects of recent Natural Disasters and COVID-19 Pandemic on health care access.

“It is clear many of those seen [of this age group] want to stay on the farms and close to their families. Rural Doctors Foundation wants to support this direction as much as possible.”

– Dr Dan Halliday.

With your support, we can continue to listen to the needs of rural and remote Queenslanders.

We can give more people lifesaving health checks and talk to them about the barriers to healthcare in their region. When we do this, we can also create innovative ways to overcome them.

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