Presenting the latest data on the health of rural and remote Australians, alongside RFDS aeromedical retrieval data and evidence on service gaps, the RFDS Best for the Bush report series identifies the issues that most urgently need attention from service providers, funders and policy makers, while also making recommendations for the RFDS to pursue together with governments, industry, rural and remote communities.
“Working alongside government, service partners and communities, this Best for the Bush report is continuation of the RFDS’ long term commitment to delivering evidence-based healthcare in regional, rural and remote Australia”, said RFDS Federation Executive Director Frank Quinlan.
“This will only be achieved through accessible primary healthcare”.
The RFDS research team gather evidence about and recommends solutions to, improving rural health outcomes and health service access for patients and communities cared for by RFDS programs.
RFDS research shows a long-term disparity in health outcomes between city and bush, which drives the Service to create innovative models of professional health care and build delivery capacity to meet the needs of rural and remote communities.
Graphic: Stroke Report
Improving stroke care in regional and rural Australia
The RFDS Research and Policy Unit has just released a health education paper on the impact of stroke on people living in the bush.More details
Graphic: Broken Hill Mental Health team
Survey Highlights Importance of Understanding in Mental Health
A new research report by the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) research team, in collaboration with the Australian Catholic University (ACU), found that a better understanding of mental health leads to better outcomes for individuals and the whole community.More details
Graphic: seeing the doctor
Equitable health access for all Australians
As part of a submission to the Federal Government's Inquiry into Regional Australia, the RFDS has just released a new research paper entitled 'Equitable Patient Access to Primary Healthcare in Australia'.More details
Cardiovascular Disease Prevention & Rehabilitation in Rural and Remote Populations
New RFDS research 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 RFDS emergency flights are for heart attack and stroke. An average of 112 patients per-week are retrieved by the RFDS from country areas 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.Read more
Hearing Australia Trial
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.Read more
Looking Ahead: Responding to the Health Needs of Country Australia in 2028
RFDS research provides a health forecast for 2028, the centenary year of the RFDS. The report finds 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.Read more
Healthy Ageing in Rural and Remote Australia: Challenges to Overcome
RFDS research 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. 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.Read more
Cardiovascular health in remote and rural communities
RFDS Research 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.Read more
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.Read more
Bush Needs Survey
Access to health care in the bush is paramount. Many people in rural, regional and remote communities across Australia continue to experience difficulty in accessing adequate medical care and health outreach programs. This study, gives a voice to our regional population, among many of which are farmers. Respondents identified core health areas that require more investment including: access to medical services; mental health; health promotion and prevention.Read more
Providing Aeromedical care to Remote Indigenous Communities
This research considers the health of Indigenous Australians living in remote and very remote areas and details illness and accident demand for aeromedical retrievals by the RFDS. Timely and accessible medical care is crucial for Indigenous Australians who have poorer health outcomes compared with non-Indigenous Australians. In addition to ensuring the provision of culturally appropriate primary health care and other health services for Indigenous Australians in these areas.Read more
Responding to Injuries in Rural and Remote Australia
This report shows that across almost every category of non-intentional and intentional injuries, incidence rates and associated death and morbidity are higher in remote and rural areas. In some parts of Australia the injury rate is almost double for remote residents compared with city residents. Access to timely medical care can influence patient outcomes following an injury. RFDS aeromedical teams are often tasked to retrieve patients who have suffered an injury and are in a remote location.Read more
Filling the Gap: Disparities in oral health access and outcomes
Residents of remote and rural Australia have poorer oral health than residents of major cities in Australia. While approximately one quarter of adults living in major cities have untreated tooth decay, prevalence increases as distance from a capital city rises, with more than one third of remote area residents living with untreated decay. Untreated tooth decay for Indigenous Australians is even higher, with more than half of Indigenous Australians having one or more teeth affected by decay.Read more
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.
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