Rural and remote health research: Does the investment match the need?

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Australian Journal of Rural Health, 2018, 26 (2), pp. 74 - 79
Issue Date:
2018-04-01
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© 2018 The Authors. Australian Journal of Rural Health published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of National Rural Health Alliance Ltd. Objective: To determine the percentage of research projects funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council in the period 2000–2014 that aimed specifically to deliver health benefits to Australians living in rural and remote areas and to estimate the proportion of total funding this represented in 2005–2014. Design: This is a retrospective analysis of publicly available datasets. Setting: National Health and Medical Research Council Rural and Remote Health Research 2000–2014. Outcome measures: ‘Australian Rural Health Research’ was defined as: research that focussed on rural or remote Australia; that related to the National Health and Medical Research Council's research categories other than Basic Science; and aimed specifically to improve the health of Australians living in rural and remote areas. Grants meeting the inclusion criteria were grouped according to the National Health and Medical Research Council's categories and potential benefit. Funding totals were aggregated and compared to the total funding and Indigenous funding for the period 2005–2014. Results: Of the 16 651 National Health and Medical Research Council-funded projects, 185 (1.1%) that commenced funding during the period 2000–2014 were defined as ‘Australian Rural Health Research’. The funding for Australian Rural Health Research increased from 1.0% of the total in 2005 to 2.4% in 2014. A summary of the funding according to the National Health and Medical Research Council's research categories and potential benefit is presented. Conclusion: Addressing the health inequality experienced by rural and remote Australians is a stated aim of the Australian Government. While National Health and Medical Research Council funding for rural health research has increased over the past decade, at 2.4% by value, it appears very low given the extent of the health status and health service deficits faced by the 30% who live in rural Australia.
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