New Research - Cardiac Rehab
A new RFDS research paper released details how cardiac rehabilitation services, if made available in the bush, could prevent as many as 80% of premature deaths from cardiac disease.
One in five of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) emergency flights are for heart attack and stroke. An average of 112 patients per-week, or 16 patients per-day, are retrieved by the RFDS from country areas and flown to major hospitals for heart treatment. Remote Australians are 1.6 times more likely to be hospitalised for coronary heart disease than people in major cities, and 1.3 times more likely to die.
Entitled Cardiovascular Disease Prevention & Rehabilitation in Rural and Remote Populations, this paper reveals that cardiac rehab programs are the critical first step in a person’s recovery from their heart attack or heart event, and improve quality of life and risk factors – with 40% of people less likely to be readmitted to hospital and 25% less likely to die from another heart event.
Currently access to cardiac services, including cardiac rehab and health programs aimed at prevention, are mainly located in metropolitan and inner regional areas. The RFDS is investigating how a mobile cardiac rehabilitation service would remove rural and remote patient attendance access barriers and help ensure adherence to lifestyle modification measures and pharmacological therapy. The RFDS is ideally placed to provide this service by embedding it within its existing primary health care services.
Hearing Australia Trial
A research paper entitled “Evaluation of the Royal Flying Doctor service and Australian Hearing Hearing Screening Trial” has been released.
Hearing loss affects some 3.6 million Australians and is predicted to more than double by 2060 in line with Australia’s ageing population. In 2017, hearing loss was estimated to affect one in seven people in Australia, including as many as three out of four people aged over 70 years.
Research Paper - Healthy Ageing
Healthy Ageing in Rural and Remote Australia: Challenges to Overcome finds that thousands of remote Australians aged over 65 are flown by aeromedical teams to hospitals with illnesses that could have been prevented through increased country health services.
RFDS Chief Executive Dr Martin Laverty said “The population of remote Australia is getting older, but the Nation is yet to work out how to support people to age and stay in the bush.
“Neurological conditions of ageing - dementia and Alzheimer’s - will significantly increase within the bush in a decade. Without new investment, existing country services won’t cope.”
Rural Health Forecast - Looking Ahead
RFDS Research reveals that while Australia’s remote population is forecast to grow only marginally in a decade, chronic illness will rise dramatically, with the burden of mental illness forecast to increase by a fifth, if action is not taken to halt current trends.
The new paper, is titled Looking Ahead: Responding to the Health Needs of Country Australia in 2028 - The Centenary Year of the RFDS Read the full report
RFDS RESEARCH finds higher bush cardiac deaths are preventable
The Flying Doctor research paper, titled Cardiovascular health in remote and rural communities, found that remote Australians are 1.6 times more likely to be hospitalised for coronary heart disease than people in major cities, and 1.3 times more likely to die. It also found Indigenous Australians were 1.7 times more likely than non-Indigenous Australians to die from coronary heart disease.
RFDS Research Paper: Mental Health in Rural and Remote Communities
Each year, around one in five, or 960,000, remote and rural Australians experience a mental disorder. The prevalence of mental disorders in remote and rural Australia is the same as that in major cities, making mental disorders one of the few illnesses that does not have higher prevalence rates in country Australia compared to city areas.
Seven million Australians live in remote and rural Australia. On average, these seven million Australians have poorer health outcomes and live shorter lives than city residents.
- The premature death rate is 1.6 times higher in remote Australia than in city areas.
- The percentage of people in remote areas with arthritis, asthma, deafness, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease is higher than in cities.
- Health behaviours of people in country areas are less conducive to good health than people in cities, with higher rates of smoking,obesity, and alcohol misuse in remote areas than in cities.
While there is ample evidence on the health access and outcome disparity between city and country Australia, there has been little information about how country people themselves see these disparities. In response, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) joined with the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) in 2017 to assess the health needs of remote and rural Australians and to give voice to country Australians.
Graphic: New research paper
The RFDS research team, in collaboration with the NFF, and the CWA, surveyed over 450 country people, drawn from every state and territory. The survey sought to determine remote and rural Australians:
- Opinions on the most important health issues impacting their communities
- Areas of health that they believe money should be spent on to improve health outcomes
- Access to health services for urgent and non-urgent health problems
- Use of RFDS health services
- Health status
A vast amount of demographic data was also collected. The current paper reports the results of the survey and discusses the results;
Royal Flying Doctor Research Publications
3rd Party Research publications
Research & Policy Unit
The Royal Flying Doctor Service's Research and Policy Unit was established in mid-2015. Its three purposes are to:
1) Voice and respond to health outcome and clinical service needs of country Australians, informed by RFDS clinical data and other sourced evidence;
2) Fulfil the Safety and Quality in Health Care standard requirement to be an organization driven by information;
3) Make publicly available RFDS clinical data and clinical research findings to contribute to public policy and clinical practice improvements.
The Research and Policy Unit can be contacted on 02 6269 5500 or by email.
The Research and Policy Unit hosts the Royal Flying Doctor Service's Clinical and Health Services Research Committee. You can find details on the composition of the committee here.Read more
Defining Rural and Remote
Royal Flying Doctor research is specifically pertinent and related to rural and remote Australia, so it is vital that we define what these terms actually mean.Read more
Research and Policy Unit staff
The RFDS research is conducted by a small team in Canberra, ACT. Here are details on the composition, skills and experience of our team.Read more
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