The August edition of the Australian Journal of Rural Health (AJRH) is coming out soon and it has a number of articles well worth reading for those working in, or that have an interest in, rural health. A study of a network of rural Western Australian hospitals, Advance care planning and end of life care, provides benchmarking information that can assist other rural hospitals and suggests ongoing work on optimal methods of measuring quality in end-of-life care. In another study it was found that dedicated resourcing is needed to build capacity to support the uptake of prescribing and dispensing of opioids in community services. The study of opioid maintenance treatment in rural and remote settings indicated there is a need to adjust funding to account for the increased demand in opioid maintenance treatment, and to establish a financial incentive for GP prescribers in managing opioid treatments.
At a time when Australian farmers and irrigators are facing major challenges, the relationship between farm profitability and the well-being of Australian dryland farmers and irrigators is an important study that has the potential to inform farmer assistance policy. A review of Aboriginal community governance of two rural NSW research projects showed that principles-based, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community governance of research is very achievable and suggests ways that it can be achieved.
Rural health workforce challenges are examined in a number of articles in this edition of the AJRH. One study of the rural background effect confirmed that the majority of fully qualified Monash University medical graduates practicing in rural communities had a rural background. However, it also found that the rural-background effect diminished over time and that ‘rural’ graduates may need continued support during their training and into their practice. In more positive news, James Cook University has been bucking a decline in medical graduates participating in research with a sharp increase in medical graduates enrolling in its Honours course. This study looked at the ‘barriers’ and ‘enablers’ of this trend, and highlighted potential areas for improving medical graduate involvement in research and the ways in which the specialty colleges can assist.
A profile of allied health professionals working with people with disabilities in rural New South Wales noted that work, as well as social conditions and community attachment, were important for this group. The better understanding of these factors can contribute to policy development to meet increasing demands for therapy services. Finally, it was shown how shortages in rural nursing and midwifery workforce, and placements for undergraduate nursing and midwifery students, can be overcome through a clinical facilitation model that is providing a steady supply of students.