Improving Rural Health: Research activity can build capacity and make a difference

Deborah Jane Russell, Lisa Lavey, Kathy Tuohey, John S. Humphreys

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Paper published in Proceedingspeer-review


Aim: Since 2007, a longitudinal evaluation of the Elmore Primary Health Service (EPHS), as a single entry point, comprehensive, multidisciplinary rural primary health care service, has been undertaken. This study, the first Australian study of its kind, assesses the extent to which the presence of research activity has fostered a research culture which contributes towards improved service performance, capacity building within its workforce, and health improvements for the community.

Method: This mixed-methods study included review and critical appraisal of documented quantitative data collected throughout the duration of the study, and analysis of recorded and transcribed qualitative data obtained through face-to-face interviews with EPHS staff.

Results: The process of embedding research in a rural health service progressed from a stage of formal initiation and apprehension (because of the rigorous data collection processes required), through one of acceptance, to full-integration of a research culture as a necessary part of daily activities.

Both direct and indirect benefits for the health service, its staff and the broader community were evident. The EPHS management increasingly valued the empirical evidence generated by the ongoing research to inform accreditation and forward strategic planning, including grant and other funding applications. As clinical staff came to better understand what the quantitative data meant, they were able to modify individual practice. Research also assisted in recruiting doctors, who were referred to published evidence of EPHS excellence, such that the service became sought after by registrars and medical students. Practitioners, in turn, gained greater confidence and professional satisfaction.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication14th National Rural Health Conference Proceedings
EditorsLeanne Coleman
Place of PublicationCanberra, ACT
PublisherNational Rural Health Alliance
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event14th National Rural Health Conference - Cairns, Australia
Duration: 26 Apr 201729 Apr 2017
http://Internet address


Conference14th National Rural Health Conference
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Improving Rural Health: Research activity can build capacity and make a difference'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this