A research project has been initiated by the Center for Rural Health Research at the University of B.C. to determine what rural communities see as priorities for health care, and the project director wants Sooke residents to make their voices heard.
“Decision makers have to decide on policy directions and it’s important that they have all the evidence before them as they make those decisions,” said Dr. Jude Kornelsen, the head of the center’s rural evidence review.
The goal of the study is to work with citizens in rural communities to assemble and provide high quality, useful evidence for rural health care planning in British Columbia, Kornelsen said.
“We get a lot of information from urban communities but the needs and priorities in rural areas can be quite different,” she said. “For example, we’ve noted that there is a very high level of concern regarding pre and postnatal care in rural areas where that care might be quite removed from the community.”
Kornelsen said UBC started the survey several months ago to decide where the group should focus its attention.
“It became evident very quickly that it was rural communities where there was a very high level of concern. We had an overwhelming response from those communities and found that a lot of the responses were both thoughtful and insightful,” she added.
“We’ve received responses from 108 rural communities to this point and are looking for more responses from communities like Sooke so that our report can reflect the concerns and ideas of those communities.”
The project’s coordinator, Christine Carthew, said that the 1,066 responses received by the review have exceeded the anticipated response, but that the survey will continue to be available at ubc.ca1.qualtrics.com. She also invites people who wish to participate in the review through a telephone interview to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’ll be taking all the results and preparing reports for decision makers at the political level as well as policy and decision makers to whom the information might be of use,” said Carthew.
“We have an advisory committee with representatives of the Ministry of Health, the regional health authorities, and rural clinicians. They provide us with information regarding where we should be forwarding our results.”
Carthew said although no formal analysis has been conducted to date, some common concerns seem to regularly surface. She said that access to primary concern is a big issue as are maternity care and transportation issues related to accessing specialty care.
“The survey will remain open and will be reviewed every six months so that we can track if there have been any changes in the concerns of rural residents.”