Without high quality research, it is difficult to create effective strategies for improving the health of rural communities. Staying current on research is not always easy. This section compiles national and international research resources. Click the expandable menu below for the latest rural health research.
Rural health research is not the most popular research field in Canada. There are several reasons for this including the lack of a national research agenda and lack of investment in funding and infrastructure. Most rural health researchers in Canada work independently. This has resulted in gaps and duplication, and lessened the impact of individual research findings.
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the agency that funds health research in Canada. As of 2019, CIHR allocated less than 1% of their total grant funding to rural-focused health research topics.
In 2018, the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada called for more investments in rural health research. They asked the federal government for two things:
- To invest $12 million per year to create a Canada-wide network of rural health innovation generators (RHIGs). This would help communities develop, test, and evaluate health care solutions made by and for rural communities.
- To create long-term funding to support the RHIC and rural research.
They argue that having a Canadian rural research agenda with dedicated funding will help to focus research on areas of highest need and benefit patients, health service providers, and rural communities.
Australia was in a similar position two decades ago but has since built one of the best rural health teaching and research infrastructures. It has an academic network of 16 Rural Health University Departments and 19 Rural Clinical Schools with substantial funding behind it. Clinician researchers associated with the network contribute substantially to the quality and effectiveness of rural health care.
An independent evaluation of the network also found that these rural programs increased the number of health professionals working in rural areas and had some direct social and economic benefits for rural communities.