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Planning research in rural and remote areas
journal contributionposted on 21.05.2019, 00:00 by PG Baker, Desley Hegney, C Rogers-Clark, PP Fahey, D Gorman, G Mitchell
INTRODUCTION: In order to set a regional research agenda, an interactive research workshop was planned by the joint University of Queensland and University of Southern Quennsland Centre for Rural and Remote Area Health (CRRAH), in which researchers and regional organisations would meet together to discuss and prioritise local research needs, then formulate constructive ideas and activities. METHODS: Selection of Participants: Organisations representing all key consumer, academic and health professionals within the Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia region were sent a letter inviting them to attend and to send at least one representative, resulting in a total of 75 workshop participants from 45 organisations representing 20 separate entities. The Design of the Workshop: The workshop was planned as an interactive research workshop, with a preliminary brainstorming to identify and prioritise topics, followed by facilitated small group discussions, and finally presentations to the reassembled total group. RESULTS: Forty three topics were put forward by participants during the plenary session, in which the following 12 major themes were evident: (1) health professional development and support; (2) mechanisms for identifying regional/local needs; (3) mental health; (4) health and interaction with the environment; (5) management of common conditions of which little is known; (6) post acute/aged care; (7) evidence based practice; (8) health workforce including volunteers; (9) indigenous health; (10) access to health service delivery; (11) economic impact of new programs; and (12) outcomes impact of research partnerships. Five subject areas from four of these themes were chosen for further small group discussion. A summary of the views, ideas and conclusions of each group, which were presented to a plenary session of reassembled participants over a 10-15 minute period by each group facilitators, are discussed below. Following each presentation, a 5-10 minute question session was provided after each topic. CONCLUSION: A workshop, enabling rural and remote organisations and regional researchers to meet and identify local research needs attracted strong local support. Although the final benefits of the workshop remain to be determined, a number of new collaborative research avenues are now being actively explored within the region, by a number of the participants.