Kia ora,

Welcome to the rural research blog – brought to you by the Section of Rural Health.

We rely on contributions to keep this blog interesting, up-to-date and informative. If you come across anything you’d like to share please email the details for consideration with a short blurb describing it’s value to rural health in NZ.

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What does it mean to be an allied health professional working in rural Aotearoa New Zealand?

Walker, SM, Blattner, K, Nixon, G, Koroheke Rogers, M, Kennedy, E. What does it mean to be an allied health professional working in rural Aotearoa New Zealand? A qualitative study. Aust J Rural Health. 2023; 00: 1–14.


Great to feature home grown allied health research on this blog, as our medical colleagues usually predominant in this rural space!  Sarah’s paper, part of her PhD, resonated loudly with me as a physiotherapist who has worked in both urban and rural practice. This research is the building block for growing the rural allied health workforce and it’s fantastic to have someone with Sarah’s passion to champion the cause of allied rural health professions in Aotearoa NZ.  I look forward to seeing where this leads. (Lynne Clay)


Objective: Building health services and workforce that are both well supported and fit for purpose is a key consideration for improving health outcomes in rural populations. Achieving this requires an understanding of the roles and practice characteristic of each professional group, including allied health professionals. This study explores what it means to be an allied health professional practicing in rural Aotearoa New Zealand.

Design: A qualitative study design was used, involving individual semi-structured interviews with 13 rural allied health professionals in the Otago and Northland regions. The interviews explored participants journey into rural practice, their experiences working rurally, and their views on rural practice.

Findings: Four main themes were derived: Identity; Connectedness; Expectations; and Providing Care.

Discussion: Proud of being rural, these allied health professionals are immersed within their community, intertwining their professional and personal identities. The unique nature of this dual identity while empowering for some, can also isolate rural allied health professionals from their professional bodies and urban peers. This leads to a sense of vulnerability and feeling undervalued and invisible. In response, rural allied health professionals choose to form strong connections to their local interprofessional team and their community. The connections they forge, and the breadth of their skills cumulate to enable allied health professionals to provide dynamic and responsive health services for their rural communities.

Conclusion: This study provides the first insight into experiences and perspectives of allied health professionals within rural Aotearoa New Zealand. Despite the challenges, a sense of pride is associated with practicing rurally for allied health professionals.

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Treatment of heart attacks at rural and urban hospitals

Investigations and treatment after non-ST segment elevation acute coronary syndrome for patients presenting to rural or urban hospitals in Aotearoa New Zealand: ANZACS-QI 75. Rory Miller, Garry Nixon, Robin M Turner, Tim Stokes, Rawiri Keenan, Corina Grey, Yannan Jiang, Susan Wells, Wil Harrison, Andrew J Kerr. New Zealand Medical Journal (Friday 10 November 2023 edition)

Congratulations Rory and the team – the full article can be found here if you are a NZMJ subscriber.  Or, for an overview of the study check out the University of Otago Media Release 

There’s also an interview with Rory c/o RNZ Midday Rural News here


Aims: Compare the care patients with non-ST segment elevation acute coronary syndrome (NSTEACS) received in Aotearoa New Zealand depending on the rural–urban category of the hospital they are first admitted to. 

Methods: Patients with NSTEACS investigated with invasive coronary angiogram between 1 January 2014 and 31 December 2019 were included. There were three hospital categories (routine access to percutaneous coronary intervention [urban interventional], other urban [urban non-interventional] and rural) and three ethnicity categories (Māori, Pacific and non-Māori/non-Pacific). Clinical performance measures included: angiography ≤3 days, assessment of left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) and prescription of secondary prevention medication. 

Results: Of 26,779 patients, 66.2% presented to urban-interventional, 25.6% to urban non-interventional and 8.2% to rural hospitals. A smaller percentage of patients presenting to urban interventional than urban non-interventional and rural hospitals were Māori (8.1%, 17.0% and 13.0%). Patients presenting to urban interventional hospitals were more likely to receive timely angiography than urban non-interventional or rural hospitals (78.5%, 60.8% and 63.1%). They were also more likely to have a LVEF assessment (78.5%, 65.4% and 66.3%). In contrast, the use of secondary prevention medications at discharge was similar between hospital categories. 

Māori and Pacific patients presenting to urban interventional hospitals were less likely than non-Māori/non-Pacific to receive timely angiography but more likely to have LVEF assessed. However, LVEF assessment and timely angiography in urban non-interventional and rural hospitals were lower than in urban interventional hospitals for both Māori and non-Māori/non-Pacific. 

Conclusions: Patients presenting to urban hospitals without routine interventional access and rural hospitals were less likely to receive LVEF assessment or timely angiography. This disproportionately impacts Māori, who are more likely to live in these hospital catchments. 

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Regional Rural Health Commissioning role vacancy

Te Whatu Ora is currently advertising for a Principal Service Development Manager in the Rural Health Commissioning team, for Te Waipounamu
Find the job listing here with more information and job description.
Note, applicants can be based anywhere in Te Waipounamu.
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Event of the Year - Prof Garry Nixon IPL November 20th

At last! We are excited to announce Garry’s Inaugural Professorial Lecture, coming to you from rural Aotearoa, November 20th 5:30pm

For registration and live streaming details click here

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Lung Cancer: Rural CME Webinar 13th Nov 7:30pm

Free registration here

Contact Dr Lucinda Thatcher CME Convenor for more information


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