A guide to reporting studies in rural and remote health
Rural and remote health
Introduction Rural and remote health is an established area in medical and social science research. Several rural health journals are known internationally and indexed in major literature databases such as MEDLINE and the Web of Science. Populations in rural and remote areas are often disadvantaged in terms of available health resources, health literacy, access to health care, and health outcomes 1-3 . The development of rural health research is essential to redress the disadvantages of people
... vantages of people in rural and remote settings. Although traditional biological determinism is still a dominant ideology in medicine, non-biological themes such as the social determinants of health and health equity are now receiving increasing attention from medical professionals, researchers, ethicists, and policy-makers 4-7 . Rural health research integrates differences, distances, and contexts in ways that illustrate these emerging non-biological themes. Members of the Rural and Remote Health editorial team have prepared a brief guide. The guide addresses 10 key areas often encountered in rural and remote health research. The guide does not include instructions for general research methodologies such as observation, intervention and qualitative research. These are easily available in websites such as Equator Network 8 . The guide presented here focuses exclusively on 'rural' elements in the rural health studies of any methodology. A checklist for writing a rural health manuscript is included at the end of the guide (Fig1). © M Matsumoto, R Bowman, P Worley, 2012. A licence to publish this material has been given to James Cook University, http://www.rrh.org.au 2 General criteria for quality 1. The research purpose must be directly linked to rural health Rural health research of high quality is more than research that happens to be conducted in rural areas. Its purpose, methods and discussion should pertain specifically to rural issues. The focus of a good rural health paper is RURAL health, not rural HEALTH. The rural purpose and objective of the study should be clearly mentioned in the introduction of the manuscript. If both the purpose and objective are not specific to rural settings, the authors need to explain how they are related to rural health. The hypothesis must be clear and relevant to rural and remote health In a good rural health article, the research hypothesis is clear and it is situated neatly in the realm of rural health. Such a hypothesis is based on the cumulative findings of past rural health literature but is designed to find something that past literature could not reveal. The topic has relevance for rural and remote health policy Policies established by government, providers, those who train providers, professional associations, and insurance companies greatly influence rural and remote health outcomes. Rural health can be seen as the cumulative effect of past policies and practices 3,9 . Health resource distributions, education for health professionals, and the financing of health care are all core themes in rural and remote health and are directly influenced by local, national and global policies 10 . A good rural health article has implications for better policies. It explains what policies have been in existence, and by reference to the results of the study, what can be done to improve these policies. The research acknowledges a local-global balance Rural and remote health research depends on the context in which the study was conducted. The unique context created by historical, cultural, politico-economic, and health system factors shape the purpose, hypothesis, results and implications of the research. The interpretation of the results thus makes sense only when the context is taken into account.