Rural and remote health
Achievement of the Centre's mission will only be met by undertaking work that is topical and applicable to the targeted communities. This is best achieved by engaging those communities in an appropriate forum.
The Centre has had past success with interactive research workshops. In 2003 an interactive research workshop was conducted by the CRRAH in Toowoomba. The aims of that workshop were to: provide an opportunity to identify and prioritise the research needs in the Toowoomba area; identify potential partners for grant applications in this area; and enable CRRAH members to establish networks with key stakeholders in the city and its surrounding areas (Baker, Hegney, Rogers-Clark, Fahey, Gorman, & Mitchell, 2004).
From this process 43 key research needs were identified and organised into 12 major themes:
- Health professional development and support
- Mechanisms for identifying regional/local needs
- Mental health
- Health and interaction with the environment
- Management of common conditions of which little is known
- Post acute/aged care
- Evidence-based practice
- Health workforce including volunteers
- Indigenous health
- Access to health service delivery
- Economic impact of new programs
- Outcomes impact of research partnerships.
The three year research strategy of CRRAH from 2004 to 2006 was informed by these identified themes.
In addition, there were a number of research-related outcomes from the workshop, including:
- A successful ARC linkage grant application
- Sponsorship of a CRRAH publication by an industrial partner
- A peer-reviewed publication
- Invited symposia and conference presentations
- Enrolment of two students into research higher degrees
- Research consultancies and other funding provided by key stakeholders
- The overall strengthening of ties with key stakeholders attending the workshop.
Most importantly CRRAH became recognised as an approachable research leader in the district. There were many follow-up contacts from both workshop participants and people referred to us by workshop participants. This has helped make CRRAH the first port of call for people contemplating research in the district and has assisted in the growth of the Centre.
Additionally, one of the aims of the CRRAH is to expand its sphere beyond the local region and establish networks in other regions of rural and remote Queensland. CRRAH has already developed ties with some key stakeholders in many of the identified communities. Such ties will greatly enhance the likelihood that CRRAH will be able to effectively and efficiently conduct its core activities, enhance the USQ philosophy and commitment to regional development and increase the amount of research income to USQ through these activities.
An additional benefit to hosting workshops is to increase the effective size of the University research workforce by tapping into the existing pool of highly educated health providers in the rural and remote areas of Queensland. Potential researchers may be identified through the workshop program and support given to develop their research skills.
From previous experience, we have found the best way to engage potential health researchers is through going to them, making ourselves available, listening to their interests and priorities, providing the encouragement and expert advice they need in developing study designs and funding applications, and giving them the support and confidence they need to pursue research. With appropriate support, many will choose to pursue their research interest as higher degree students.