People living in remote and rural areas generally experience poorer health than their metropolitan counterparts. Being aware of this health differential, and how it impacts on service delivery will increase you understand of remote and rural health and inform the way you deliver services. It is also important to recognise the difference between remote and rural, and variation between individual communities.
The health profile of remote and rural areas are characterised by:
- Lower life expectancy, deceasing with remoteness. Life expectancy in regional areas is one to two years lower than life expectancy in a metropolitan area, and up to seven years lower in remote areas.
- Poorer self reported health, with people in regional and remote areas less likely to report very good or excellent health.
- Higher rates of injury mortality, particularly arising form motor vehicle injury and workplace accidents.
- Higher rates of suicide.
- Lower birth weights and higher rates of teenage pregnancy.
- Higher rates of health risk behaviour such as smoking, alcohol consumption and poor nutrition, and higher mortality rates from associated lifestyle disease such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease.
Additionally, social determinants of health impact the health of people living in remote and rural areas, with people living in remote and rural areas experiencing reduced educational and employment opportunities, income, access to goods and services and in some areas access to basic necessities, such as clean water and fresh food.
Indigenous Health Differentials
When considering the health profile of remote and rural Australians it is important to include the specific health profile of Indigenous people. Indigenous people experience significantly poorer health than the broader population. This health disparity is evident in both morbidity and mortality statistics. The health profile of Indigenous people is characterised by:
- A life expectancy of approximately years twenty less than all Australians.
- Lower levels of access to health services.
- Higher rates of hospitalisation for most diseases and conditions, including diabetes related conditions, skin diseases, respiratory disease and injury.
- Higher incidences of low birth weights, and an increased likelihood of maternal and infant in childbirth.
Remote & Rural Health & You
Think about the health profile of the within the community you work with:
- What are the health priorities in the community?
- How does this affect the way health services are delivered?