Rural roundup: building research capacity in rural settings

Prof Christos Lionis (Greece) writes:

Rural primary health care research promotes excellence in clinical practice and has been shown to improve staff recruitment and retention. While progress has been made recently to support research excellence in rural health care in Australia, Canada, the USA and some European countries, research in rural primary health care settings has received insufficient attention worldwide.

The European Rural and Isolated Practitioners Association (EURIPA) has held several consensus meetings over the past few years to examine issues related to enhancing capacity for promoting research within rural European settings. A large consensus panel comprised of experts in rural family medicine and public health, jointly with guests and primary care physicians serving rural areas in Europe, succeeded with translating key issues, views and suggestions raised in previous EURIPA annual meetings into practical recommendations. This consensus report was published in the Australian Journal of Rural Health, in June 2018, and builds on the work of the European General Practice Research Network (EGPRN). The consensus report sought to identify the barriers, priority research themes and to approve recommendations for building future capacity for rural health research.

Lionis C, Dumitra G, Kurpas D, Tsiligianni I, Papadakis S, Petrazzuoli F; EURIPA. Building research capacity in rural health settings: Barriers, priorities and recommendations for practitioners. Aust J Rural Health. 2018 Jun 1. doi: 10.1111/ajr.12422. [Epub ahead of print]

Fourteen barriers facing rural health research were identified by the Consensus Panel as being of greatest significance. Among the identified barriers, poor networking among rural practitioners was identified by Consensus Panel members as being a particularly significant factor in terms of efforts to build research capacity.

This report summarises seven recommendations and specifically the following:

1. Identify the local population health needs
2. Prioritise and plan research based on local needs
3. Identify the existing research capacity
4. Create linkages with existing networks and institutions, including universities
5. Plan research considering realistic and achievable outcomes
6. Ensure adequate resources are in place prior to implementation
7. Report to local community

The Consensus Panel hopes this report will assist with informing discussions for building research capacity in rural primary health care settings. Specifically, it is the hope of the panel that these recommendations will assist clinicians working in rural health settings with engaging in excellent research that will benefit the local population and assist with supporting the establishment of new linkages among those working in both rural and urban settings to support a stronger rural health research agenda.